Our Origin Story

Mission and History

Cleveland Lead Safe Network (CLSN) was founded in January 2017 to promote legislation that would require owners of rental properties built before 1978 to make their properties lead safe before children are poisoned. At that time about 4 children per day were being diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels. 

In 2017, the Ohio House adopted an amendment to the Budget bill that would have pre-empted the enactment of local laws governing lead safety. CLSN and a network of advocacy organizations went to Columbus and convinced the Ohio Senate to drop the amendment from the final bill.

During 2017 and 2018, CLSN worked with Councilman (now Judge) Jeff Johnson to write and introduce the Cleveland Lead Safe ordinance. Despite our best efforts, Cleveland City Council refused to hold hearings on the ordinance.

In the fall of 2018, Cleveland Lead Safe Network joined with 11 other community based organizations to form Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) as an Issue PAC under Ohio law. CLASH began a petition drive to place a lead safe housing initiative on the ballot.

Faced with the likelihood of a vote of the people, Cleveland City Council enacted a Lead Safe Certificate ordinance on 7/24/19.

In 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, CLASH re-organized as a 501 c 3 tax exempt organization for the purpose of fully implementing the Cleveland Lead Safe Certificate ordinance and expanding the scope of lead safe housing protections for Clevelanders who are at risk of lead poisoning. 

During 2021, CLASH developed health safe communication channels including two email newsletters (Stay in Touch for public supporters and Weekend/midweek update for activists.) We also produced a brochure on Using Nutrition to Combat Lead Poisoning, which we circulated at food programs and feeding centers. CLASH continued to meet using online meeting tools.

In 2022, CLASH carried the message of lead safety into neighborhoods where we met face to face with the citizens who propelled the passage of the Lead Safe Certificate Program. At the same time we conducted briefings on lead safety with candidates for Mayor and City Council. On election day, CLASH activists took heart that candidates who were committed to implementation of the Lead Safe Certificate program were elected to office. You can read more about our 2022 Goals and accomplishments.

In 2023, CLASH is expanded the scope of our work of awareness, activism, leadership and governance to address new challenges. In addition to our focus on enforcing the Lead Safe Certificate program, CLASH has added a focus on improving child lead testing, empowering families dealing with lead hazards, and addressing industrial lead hazards. 

Recurring themes

Honorable Mentions

Featured in Randy Cunningham's book, Where We Live: Environmental Activists’ Fight to Save Their Communities.

Highlighted in Michael Dover's Plenary Speech at 2024 Cuyahoga County Conference on Social Welfare. "Lead safety was the subject of a workshop here at CCCOSW in 2016 and one today from CLASH. The Cleveland.Com Editorial Board said last fall about lead safety: “Radical

change is needed, and it can’t wait.” While focusing in depth on one aspect of safety, CLASH seems to me to also envision a broader, thicker approach to not only lead safety but to housing safety and health safety."