Families Relocated by UMass Amherst After Lead Paint Found at Lincoln Apartments

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts Housing Services has moved 14 families with children younger than six years of age from Lincoln Apartments to North Village Apartments after lead paint was discovered at the Lincoln complex. State and federal laws designed for the protection of children younger than six required the University to relocate the families.

Lincoln Apartments are located at the south end of the campus on Lincoln Ave. North Village is situated north of the campus, on North Pleasant St.

A total of 16 families were notified by Housing Services of the need to move last December. Discussions with two families who remain at the complex are ongoing.

Tenants who were relocated will pay the same rent at North Village as for Lincoln Apartments, through the end of their current lease periods. Housing Services paid for moving costs and provided assistance with the actual moves as requested. Phone installation charges at North Village were also paid for by Housing Services.

According to Michael Gilbert, director of Housing Services, the University is currently seeking legal advice as to whether the lead paint must be removed from Lincoln Apartments or whether those units might be reserved for tenants without young children. Lead abatement would probably cost "several million dollars," according to Gilbert, and would likely require that no units be occupied during the removal process.

Gilbert says no lead was detected inside buildings at Lincoln Apartments in testing conducted in the spring of 1999. But later tests completed with more sophisticated equipment revealed the presence of lead on some interior painted surfaces such as door frames and bookcases. Gilbert says that lead paint has been detected at all 11 buildings in the complex, primarily on door and window frames, as well as on exterior railings and deck fenestration. Those locations, he says, have the potential for the paint to be tracked inside and onto the grounds of the complex. In most cases, the lead-bearing paint has been covered by several layers of non-hazardous paint in good condition, Gilbert says.

Constructed in 1958, Lincoln Apartments consists of 16 two-bedroom and 65 one-bedroom apartments, as well as 24 studio apartments, for a total of 105 units.