By RAY WILBUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — Rural communities across the state get less money for lead abatement and education than cities, leaving officials to wonder how much of a priority lead poisoning really is for Michigan. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a handful of grants each year to provide lead abatement services for residents, but because the competition is so fierce, they go to bigger metropolitan areas. The state Department of Health and Human Services provides lead services to individual homes if high levels of lead are identified, but it does not provide consistent funding to whole communities. The state health department recently submitted a request for $23.8 million in additional federal funding for the state, but that money will be used first for Flint and then those areas where lead problems are most concentrated, such as Detroit. “We have to focus our dollars where it’s needed most,” said Jennifer Eisner, a public information officer for the state department.