PRHA relocates family after 3-year-old boy found with elevated levels of lead

Posted at 10:36 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 22:36:22-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - It's a day that Irene Cuffee has dreamed of for weeks, but never thought it would officially happen.

"I just am thankful, and although it won't stop the symptoms from occurring with him at least it will keep him from getting any worse," she says.

NewsChannel 3 shared Cuffee and her 3-year-old son Isaac's story back in February.

She was living in a Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority property, Swanson Homes, off of Swanson Parkway, with her 3-year-old son, Isaac.

Cuffee says Isaac was running high fevers and could not sleep. She showed NewsChannel 3 the results of a lead test that showed he had elevated levels of lead in his system.

The Virginia Beach Health Department confirmed to NewsChannel 3 that they found elevated levels of lead on her back door.

She says she often caught her son picking up the paint chips and eating them.

"I expected them to do something, but not his."

Cuffee says the day after NewsChannel 3 told her story, PRHA called her and put her in a hotel

Three weeks later, moving expenses included, she now has a new PRHA apartment on Armstrong Drive.

The PRHA Deputy Director, Kathy Warren, says they are also in the process of fixing the lintels on other homes along Swanson Parkway.

"They got on it, every single day they've been fixing everybody's units," says Cuffee. "It's like a 360 occurred once this news came on."

Warren says they also did a full-blown environmental assessment of Cuffee's old home and they are waiting on the reports.

While the process took months of stress, Cuffee says she has no regrets doing it all for her son.

"He's going to be healthier and things had to change and now they have," she says. "It makes me wonder sometimes if I hadn't done this what would've happened."