CLEVELAND — After decades of damage, thousands of poisoned children and cries from those demanding change, Cleveland City Council introduced legislation to fight the city’s lead poisoning crisis Monday.
Legislation will require all properties built before 1978 to be certified as “lead safe”.
If passed, this legislation would represent a turning point and the first actionable step to making the city lead-safe, protecting thousands of children from being poisoned.
It requires all landlords and property owners to deem properties lead-safe by March 1, 2023 with criminal penalties for being non-compliant.
The legislation is a combination of ideas from the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition and Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH).
It increases rental registration fees from $35 to $75 - giving more money to the city’s general fund – which could be used for implementing the lead-safe ordinance.
The legislation gave one mother hope her toddler will live a better life, away from an apartment filled with lead-chipped paint.
Thekisha Tutstone lives in the Allerton Apartments downtown and her three-year-old son has been hospitalized for lead poisoning.
“I want a better life for my son,” she said. “Him going back-and-forth to the hospital, you know, I don’t know how that’s going to affect him later in life. I want him to have an excellent future.”
Recent studies show thousands of children have been poisoned by lead in Cleveland over the decades. Even more shocking, a quarter of all kindergartners in the city start school with an elevated level of lead in their blood.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, Councilman Basheer Jones organized a protest to bring awareness to housing issues in Ward 7. Primarily expressing concerns regarding senior citizens, multiple families expressed their frustrations of lead problems.
“We want a thorough investigation of every single building to make sure there’s no lead issues,” Jones said.
Council hopes to vote on the legislation in a few weeks at the Cleveland Lead Safe Home Summit and pass it by September.
“That very first baby…that is not poisoned, will be because of the brave efforts of this council, the city, our coalition and our community,” said Councilman Kerry McCormack.
Legislation does not require lead testing for young children, nor does it make it illegal to discriminate against tenants based on their source of income.