Cleveland Unveils First Measure To Prevent Lead Poisoning

Kevin Kelley and Blaine Griffin at Cleveland city council
Council President Kevin Kelley and Councilman Blaine Griffin are two of the co-sponsors of legislation requiring lead inspections and cleanups at all rental properties built before 1978. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]
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A proposed ordinance would set a timetable for lead inspections and cleanup in all Cleveland rental units built before 1978.

Every rental unit in the city would have to be inspected beginning March 1, 2021, under newly introduced Under Ord. 747-2019, and all units would have to be certified as lead safe by 2023. Violations would carry civil and criminal penalties.

Councilman Blaine Griffin co-sponsored the legislation, along with Council President Kevin Kelley and Councilman Kerry McCormack.

“We’re fundamentally changing the way that landlords will operate in this city and we’re going to hold people accountable," Griffin said Monday. "But at the same time there’s more work to do and this has to be a community effort in order for us to succeed.”

The ordinance doesn’t include a way to pay for or train the inspectors or cleanup workers that will be needed. Nor does it provide clear funding for tennants' alternative housing, even though provisions for moving tenants out of lead-contaminated homes are included.

Rental registration fees will double to $70 per unit to cover some of the costs the regulations are expected to create. A committee established by council earlier this year, the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition, will continue to search for foundation and community financial support.

Cleveland City Council starts its summer recess Tuesday, but Kelley said committee meetings to consider the legislation will continue. The goal is to pass something by the end of the summer.

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