Fix'm Up or Tear'm Down

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.

  1. Re-placard all of the houses on the State’s Poisoned House list. In 2018, it took a court order to force the Department of Public Health to placard all the poisoned houses. At the time, it was ordered that houses be checked annually to assure that signage was still posted.

  2. Relocate families living in placarded houses as provided for in Section 240.09 (d) of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Cleveland.

  3. File a complaint against each property owner who has failed to comply with an outstanding Lead Hazard Control Order. Cleveland Housing Court can determine the appropriate remedy to the problem.

  4. Where owners fail to respond to a court summons, file a receivership action under ORC 3767.41 or and ask the court to appoint a receiver to determine if the house can be rehabilitated or must be safely demolished according to RRP standards. Local CDC’s should be given first priority for appointment of a receiver.