Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced new assistance programs to help qualifying homeowners replace lead water lines across Chicago.
The Equity Lead Service Line Replacement Program will provide full replacement for low-income residents that own and live in their home, have a household income below 80-percent of the median income and have consistent lead concentrations above 15 ppb in their water, according to a press release from the Mayor's office.
“The water in Chicago is safe, and is in full compliance with all federal, state and industry standards,” Lightfoot reassured during Thursday’s press conference. “What we are talking about today, however, is making sure that we go even further to ensure the safety and health of our residents in the future.”
The city will cover costs in full if a qualified homeowner opts-in to the program and will be paid for by up to $15 million in community development block grant funds in 2021.
“Lead service lines are a legacy issue that we need to start chipping away at now and that happens by moving in the right direction in a responsible way,’ Lightfoot said. “I want to be clear that doing the extensive network of legacy lead service lines is a steep and costly mountain that we will need to climb.”
Under the program, qualified homeowners will receive a replacement of the service line from the water main up to the home and homes and two flats will receive a water meter if there is not already one installed, according to the press release.
Also on Thursday, the city announced an additional program called the Homeowner-Initiated Lead Service Line Replacement Program that will waive permit fees for homeowners to hire an outside contractor to conduct the lead pipe replacement.
The city also announced a pilot program that will be conducted in 2021 to explore additional programs for those who wish to replace water lines but don’t qualify under the two announced Thursday.