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Cleveland mother fed up with city's lack of response to lead paint issues

lead paint
Posted at 10:59 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 23:18:28-04

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland mother says she's done all she can to get Cleveland’s lead safe program to help her make her home safe for her children.

"That's all we're getting is talk, I've called the mayor's office, I've called the city, I've called everything,” Heather Vance said.

The city health department deemed her home a lead paint hazard more than two years ago, but she says she can't get the city to follow-up.

Lead poisoning in children and the potential behavioral issues it can cause is a major problem in Cleveland and cities across the county.

Cleveland established a new lead program back in 2019, but as 5 On Your Side Investigator Joe Pagonakis reports, some local lead experts say the program is off to an extremely slow start.

Vance is a Cleveland mother, whose East Side home was tagged with an order to vacate by the Cleveland Department of Health due to high levels of lead more than two years ago. Sadly, both her 7-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter have tested with extremely high lead levels due to lead paint. But so far, Vance says the city's lead program never came back to follow-up in mitigating lead issues in her home.

“The one place that I called, the number that’s on the vacate notice, she says that she has on record that I called 311 times,” Vance said.

Vance says she also applied for help through the city lead program for her son, who has lead-related behavior issues, but says by the time city responded he was too old to qualify for assistance.

“And she said that my application was denied because my son just turned seven three weeks ago, which make no sense, period,” Vance said.

Yvonka Hall, director with Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing, said Cleveland’s lead program has fallen way behind since its inception two years ago. Halls says Cleveland has tagged 425 homes with lead issues but has still yet to follow-up—potentially exposing other children to a lead paint and lead pipe hazards.

Hall says Cleveland’s program has signed up less than 100 homeowners for financial assistance with lead paint mitigation. A small number, since Hall says 90% of Cleveland’s housing stock was built before 1978 and contains lead paint. Hall says Cleveland’s program needs major improvements to effectively deal with the youth behavioral issues that can be caused by lead poisoning in children.

"This right here is leading to the issues that we're seeing concerning violence in our community; we must address lead. We cannot address violence unless we address lead,” Hall aid.

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