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Here's what Cleveland can learn from Toledo's new Lead Paint Ordinance

Posted: 6:47 AM, Oct 17, 2017
Updated: 2017-10-17 10:47:28Z

Hundreds of homes in Cleveland continue to be at risk or even taken over by layers of lead paint.

City officials have been struggling to find a solution to cut down on the amount of homes still affected by the hazardous paint.

Nearly 10 years ago, city council made voluntary "Lead Safe" certificates available to landlords who proved through private inspections that their homes didn't pose a lead poisoning risk to children, but the effort flopped when not a single landlord signed up.

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Now, Councilman Jeff Johnson is proposing that Cleveland homes, childcare centers and schools built before 1978 be certified as safe from lead hazards by 2021 under new legislation, but it’s still in administration review, and has yet to reach council.

Meanwhile, this summer, the City of Toledo is taking action after they spent months working with the state to get grant approval for their lead city ordinance.

“Lead poisoning isn’t just something that happens and it just goes away, it has some real long-term effects,” said Eric Zgodzinski, the Health Commissioner for Toledo.

He says the first step is simply about assessing the problem and making sure hazardous lead is maintained and control inside the homes.

“We’re not talking tens of thousands of dollars, we’re talking a couple gallons of paint, maybe some scrapings, things of that nature. But we know that there are some houses that are going to need more tender loving and care,” he said.

Tender loving care is needed for a handful of Angela Harding and Erika Duncan’s 150 properties in the city.

The two are on a quest to fulfill the city’s new law for each home to pass a lead proofing inspection by July 2018.

“It was scary at first watching them pass laws, but when everybody really started working together, they came up with something was very very workable,” Harding said.

And they're not alone. Toldeo now requires each home built before 1978 to pass a lead proofing inspection and be registered with the city, or else the owner faces fines.

Angela, who also owns properties in Michigan, says she’s seen it work there before.

“Over the years, the houses have been better taken care of,” she said.

That’s what the city is hoping for down range.

But it’s not an open and shut case, the city ordinance is just in phase one of what they say will just have to take time.

“There’s a lot of unknown,” Zgodzinski said. “What we need to do is consider this more of a maintenance program than anything else, it’s saying take care of what you’ve got.”

Homes that need more extensive work will be allowed to extend their deadline past the July 2018 date.

City health officials said they know it's not a perfect system and there are plenty of kinks they are still working through during this first phase.