Lead paint abatement project raises questions about tax dollars

- A popular program to remove lead from Atlanta homes has one resident claiming tax dollars were wasted.

You do the math - $60,000 spent to fix up a house worth $30,000.

When the FOX 5 I-Team first paid a visit to Vickie Knox' little home in Southwest Atlanta, it was in terrible shape. Not just because it was an 85-year-old house full of lead paint, but because 60-thousand tax dollars had been spent on it, only to look like this:

  • * a wall socket installed to the back of a flexible piece of thin wallboard instead of the wall itself.
  • * refrigerant lines from a new AC unit running through a broken out window pane into the basement
  • * holes in the walls and ceilings throughout the home left by contractors
  • * a refurbished utility room for a washer and dryer that failed to replace the water line and vent that was there before
  • * paint sticks used to correct windows that no longer fit after the lead paint had been abated.
  • * construction trash both inside and outside.

"My son found a lead threat in the paint and mentioned it to me," Ms. Knox explained as we walked through the unfinished work.
"I wrote everybody I thought it was safe to write to try to get the house fixed so my granddaughter would be in a safe place."

The Center for Working Families, a non-profit that handled the Lead Abatement program for the city of Atlanta, told her they had additional money to help with other repairs, too.

"I was told there was funding to get things done for me," Ms. Knox told me." And I was thankful. And they're not getting done. And I'm being made to feel I'm bothering... just don't bother me."

We tried calling the Center for Working Families. When no one called us back, we dropped by Vickie's house one day when the non-profit's chief financial officer Nicole Jefferson happened to be there.

"Are you going to make it right?"

"That's exactly why I'm here," she explained. "We're going to get back in here and find out what's going on."

The Center for Working Families says they've spent $815,000 overall through that special program to help fix up 18 houses afflicted with lead paint issues and, so far, no complaints. We talked to other homeowner participants who confirmed they were happy.

What's unclear is why so much money -- $60,000 -- was spent on one house. Ms. Knox got new electrical and plumbing, but she also got a new air conditioning unit to replace the one she says was working fine, a new roof to replace the one she just had installed in December.

A spokesman for the Center for Working Families says the first new roof, the one put on by a Henry County roofer with 32 years of experience, did not pass code or have a permit pulled.

"I wasn't supposed to be anything but happy," lamented Ms. Knox." And thankful. And thankful to be given such a blessing  to do my house because as you can see it needs the work done."

Two weeks after our visit, Vickie was told once again the job was finished. It looked better... with spruced up hardwood floors and less garbage. But apparently, $60,000 only goes so far.

There was still no replacement water line for her washer or a vent for her dryer. We still saw holes and debris.

"There was a lot, a lot of waste going on with this project," Ms. Knox complained. "And that's why I have the concerns. It's not that I feel like anybody owes me anything. For the moneys that they were blessed with to do the project I feel like it should have been done better."

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes advertiser stories