The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the East Chicago Housing Authority $4 million Thursday to tear down a lead contaminated public housing complex.
The West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana is the most contaminated section of a federal toxic waste cleanup site. Last spring, the city forced about a thousand residents to move out of the complex, a process that took nearly a year.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development now approved local plans to demolish the complex, despite many residents objecting to those plans at a public meeting in June. And residents who attended that meeting say they’re still waiting for HUD to respond to their comments, as the agency promised to do.
Former housing complex residents and residents who live near the now-defunct complex are worried the demolition will cause lead- and arsenic- contaminated dust to spread as far as nearby Gary.
Akeesha Daniels happens to be a member of both of those groups.
“I don’t really know what I would like them to do with those buildings out there,” Daniels says. “But I don’t think the people that they’re going to hire — they’ve never dealt with this high amount of contaminants.”
The city hasn’t announced the name of a contractor for the project yet.
In a press release, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said, “This grant will allow leaders in East Chicago to move forward on a plan for a safer, healthier future.”
The release also says it’s “vital” to tear down the buildings quickly so the Environmental Protection Agency can clean the area.
Officials estimate the demolition will cost $6 million in total. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority is providing the remaining $2 million dollars.