September 18, 2017

HUD Gives East Chicago $4.1M For Planned West Calumet Demolition

Article origination IPBS-RJC
The now-vacant West Calumet Housing Complex has high levels of lead and arsenic in its soil. - IPB file photo

The now-vacant West Calumet Housing Complex has high levels of lead and arsenic in its soil.

IPB file photo

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving East Chicago nearly $4.1 million to tear down a contaminated former public housing site.

The money must be used within a year – though HUD hasn’t officially approved the city’s controversial demolition plan for the West Calumet Housing Complex.

HUD classified the demolition as public housing emergency work as it issued the new grant money. The federal agency says it’s needed to prevent danger to human health “because of limited capital funding currently available to the housing authority.”

That’s according to the grant notice, provided to Indiana Public Broadcasting by a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). Donnelly and other lawmakers thanked HUD for the allocation in a joint statement.

No one currently lives on the West Calumet site. But nearby residents worry demolition could spread lead-laden dust. They’ve raised those concerns with HUD, which has to sign off on any city or contractor demolition plans.

A HUD spokeswoman could not immediately comment further on the status of its approval or the grant.

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