Fix'm Up or Tear'm Down

LeadHazardousProperties Dec 20, 2023

December 28, 2023. Signal Cleveland. The Wrap Up: Since September, Cleveland prosecuted more than 130 landlords who ignored lead hazards in homes. "The city has also attached 500 notices to properties to alert future homebuyers of potential hazards." 

October 27, 2023. Signal Cleveland. Ohio chief justice rejects bias complaint against Cleveland Housing Court Judge W. Moná Scott. "The decision by Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy removes a roadblock from City Hall’s effort to declare a public nuisance at the set of apartment buildings on Shaker Boulevard. The conditions in the buildings have become a focus of Cleveland’s effort to get a handle on investor-owned properties." Why is this a lead story? Maybe you remember that the Cleveland Law Department brought charges against 50 owners of properties that had Lead Hazard Control Orders, but come arraignment day, only one landlord showed up and two others sent letters from their attorneys. For years, CLASH has recommended using Ohio's Civil Nuisance law to bring cases against the properties, not the owners. This ruling in the Shaker Square cases strengthens the city's hand to cut thru the red tape of bringing out of town or missing owners of abandoned properties to court. 

Sep. 20, 2023. Signal Cleveland. Cleveland prosecutes landlords who ignored lead hazards in homes. "The city files criminal charges against 50 property owners as part of renewed effort to make more homes lead safe."

Explainer #1: Signal's Candice Wilder presents the clearest report on the complex issue of enforcement. The cases being filed this week involve referrals from the Cleveland Department of Public Health where a child has been poisoned and a Lead Hazard Control Order has been filed. Today's only indirectly addresses the problem of enforcement of the City's Lead Safe Certificate act which requires all owners of rental properties built before 1978 to submit a lead clearance test to the Department of building and housing. 

June 15, 2023. Signal Cleveland. ​Quality of Cleveland’s occupied homes and structures dips, new property survey shows​. ​ "​94% of occupied structures earned excellent to fair rating, a drop from 98% in 2015; more than half of vacant structures rated deteriorated or hazardous.​" But..."Surveyors saw 336 lead placards on properties, indicating a house needs to be vacated due to lead hazards. The surveyors suspected about 75% of those properties had people living in them​. Robb said organizations and city departments working to address the lead paint problem in Cleveland can use survey information like peeling paint and bare soil along with publicly available information on the age of a home to monitor properties in a more concentrated way​."  CLASH and others have been demanding FOR YEARS that these properties be renovated or demolished using Ohio's Nuisance Abatement Law. After spending x millions on another study, Western Reserve Land Conservancy recommends what? more planning? 

May 5, 2023. Signal Cleveland. Clevelanders frustrated with abandoned houses; some take matters into their own hands "Residents use viral photos, neighborhood cleanups to highlight need for action." Here's an explainer on demolition in Cleveland. Alas-it does not address lead safe demolition requirements.

Apr. 21, 2023 Spectrum News. Cleveland holding homeowners with lead paint accountable. "The City of Cleveland is trying to eradicate its lead paint problem. 'A total of 397 placarded properties in the city of the Cleveland and our goal was to make sure that all of those properties also have an Affidavit of Fact attached,' Etoi Shaquila Young, the lead program manager at Cleveland Department of Health, said. This week, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration filed 100 Affidavits of Fact against homeowners that have not gotten rid of lead in their homes. Young explained what pushed the city to do this."

February 14, 2022. City Council asks Cleveland Department of Health for an explanation of the Poisoned Houses cases in the neighborhoods. Watch here starting at 57.49. 

April 18, 2022. WKSU. Cleveland City Council wants better system for tracking nuisance complaints. Will the city step up?. " 'Maurer said it would be more efficient if residents could track complaints without the council member doing it for them. 'I want to live in a world where the council doesn’t manage these things,' she said. 'I don’t live in that world. An incredible proportion of my day is spent tracking down which inspector did what. It would be incredibly helpful.' "

October 11, 2021

CLASH says: Fix’m Up or Tear them down.

Tonight, Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) will demand immediate action to repair or demolish lead poisoned houses in Cleveland. CLASH president Yvonka M. Hall will address the issue at the Citizen Comment period at Cleveland City Council.

Today, there are 418 lead poisoned houses in Cleveland neighborhoods according to the Ohio Department of Health. Each house has been the scene of a lead poisoning. Following an inspection, property owners were served with a Lead Hazard Control Order by the Department of Public Health, and none has been remediated. None, to the best of our knowledge has ever been taken to court. 

There they sit, many with deteriorating lead paint spreading to surrounding homes. Many are occupied by families with children, despite Health Department warnings.

According to a windshield survey of 323 of these homes conducted by CLASH volunteers last spring, warning placards have been removed from 227 of these units and 127 are occupied. 

In August, Channel 5 reported on a family living in a placarded home in Ward 5 The family had been waiting for 2 years for funding through the City’s Lead Hazard Control program. Sadly, the family learned that the property no longer qualifies for City funding because the poisoned child turned 7 years old while the house was on the waiting list for lead abatement.

CLASH demands that the city of Cleveland take four steps to remove these superspreader homes from the neighborhoods.

February 14, 2022. Testimony before the Council Health Committee raised more questions than answers. 

Council's Health committee invited Acting Director Brian Kimball to give an overview of properties with outstanding lead hazard control orders (LHCO). An LHCO is issued when a the Health Department determines that a child was lead poisoned because of lead hazards in the home. 

Kimball revealed that CDPH has a list of 350 placarded properties that it is monitoring every 6 months. (There is  a discrepancy between that figure and state records).

Kimball reported that some of the placarded houses go back to 2016, but implied that none has been taken to court, He offered two explanations. Law Department says some cases are "too old" to bring to court and Law Department says some have incomplete information. Kimball told the committee that CDPH staff are working with Law Department staff to come up with a new protocol for processing cases against non-compliant landlords.

CLASH expects more info on placarded houses at the 2022 General Budget meetings in the next two weeks.