Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) encouraged but concerned by new “Lead Safe” legislation introduced by Cleveland City Council
(Plain Press, July 2019) After review of the Cleveland City Council’s lead safe legislative proposal, Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) is encouraged by the progress but remains concerned about key missing provisions.
CLASH will continue its petition drive for our updated proposal because CLASH understands there are three phases to an actual law – introduction, review and passage. Until all three are completed, and an effective “lead safe” mandate law with key policy provisions is passed, CLASH will continue to seek public support for its proposal as allowed under the city charter for a possible vote in March 2020.
“We understand that introduction of legislation does not guarantee that an actual law will be passed,” says Jeff Johnson, CLASH member and former Cleveland City Councilman. “We will work with City Council but also remain in the community to secure support for a strong ‘lead safe’ law.”
The proposed ordinance introduced June 3rd 2019 in City Council does demonstrate the significant switch from a reactive approach to a proactive approach. Instead of waiting for a child to test positive, City Council’s bill supports our vision of a transformational, preventative testing system that requires “lead safe” status in all rental units in the city.
However, the City’s bill does not require that all rental housing be “lead safe” until March 1, 2023. CLASH believes it must be March 1, 2021. Additionally, the City Council proposal ignores the need to protect children in daycare centers. CLASH believes local lead law must include daycare centers registered under city law and that City leaders must continue to support a partnership with the state and county to require all city daycare centers to be “lead safe.”
As written, the City’s legislation also raises constitutional issues because it relies on criminal penalties to punish landlords for their first violation.
Other important policy initiatives that are missing in the City Council proposal are (1) Use of a higher standard for the initial lead test in the rental housing. CLASH believes to properly protect our neighborhood children the initial test must be the “gold standard” lead risk assessment; (2) Inclusion on a Lead Advisory Board of citizens personally impacted by lead poisoning, renters and healthcare professionals; (3) Enhanced protections for tenants (4) Prohibitions on conflicts of interest between landlords and those hired to complete lead tests; and (5) landlord protections such as the safe harbor if landlords follow the lead safety requirements.
CLASH’s attorney, Rebecca Maurer helped to identify these differences, and others, as part of her review of the bill, a full copy of which is attached to this press release.
“For all the differences I have identified in two pieces of legislation, there’s one difference that should not matter” says Attorney Maurer, “how this bill gets passed. Whether we get that legislation through City Council or through a ballot initiative, what’s important is that we protect kids in the best way we know how. CLASH is encouraged to see the progress made by City Council, but, as long as we see areas for improvement, we will remain active.”
ABOUT CLEVELAND LEAD ADVOCATES FOR SAFE HOUSING: Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable citizens in the City of Cleveland. Member organizations include the Cleveland Lead Safe Network, Single Payer Access Network, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, Black Lives Matter of Cuyahoga County, Cleveland End Poverty Now Coalition, Organize!Ohio, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Cleveland Democratic Socialists of America, Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, and Black on Black Crime, Inc. For more information or to volunteer with CLASH contact Yvonka Hall at the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus at 216-802-8201 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org