Cleveland Lead Advocacy Group to Move Forward With Ballot Initiative

click to enlarge Lead Safe Cleveland coalition, (1/22/19). - CITY OF CLEVELAND
City of Cleveland
Lead Safe Cleveland coalition, (1/22/19).

Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) issued a press release Tuesday afternoon saying that their coalition of activist organizations intends to move forward with a ballot initiative. A Tuesday morning press conference at City Hall was meant to unveil the city's new lead strategy — the culmination of years of fact-finding and stakeholder engagement — but in CLASH's view, the press conference was a letdown. It "offered no dollars and no dates." 

“While the City is yet again kicking the can down the road, more children are being poisoned,” said Yvonka Hall, Outreach Director for the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, a CLASH member organization.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Council President Kevin Kelley, Councilman Blaine Griffin, and a scrum of private partners announced their plan to significantly reduce lead poisoning within a decade. The region's hospitals and multiple philanthropic organizations pledged that they would work harder than they have been. Griffin reiterated a common City Hall theme: that the goal of the strategy should be to work with landlords, not against them. A summit on lead and a "Lead Safe Home Fund" to assist landlords in remediating their properties were proposed.

According to the Plain Dealer, Frank Jackson did not commit to "a specific measure of success or a timeframe for achieving the coalition’s goals." Kevin Kelley's metric for success was “when less children are poisoned.”

CLASH, for its part, said they agreed that public and private funding mechanisms will be required to solve the lead crisis, but supports legislation that will hold landlords accountable for certifying that their properties — those built before 1978 — are lead-safe. The city has been resistant to such legislation, citing concerns about enforcement. Blaine Griffin has said that legislation is only one piece of a large and complex puzzle.

Former city councilman Jeff Johnson, a member of the Cleveland Lead Safe Network, helped author the lead legislation that he introduced in 2017. Johnson was running for Mayor at the time, and his bill never received a hearing. He is quoted in the CLASH release.

“We do not need years of commissions and summits to tell us what needs to be done," said Johnson. “We need a mandatory lead safe testing requirement for Cleveland’s rental properties and the funding to support it.” 

Concluded CLASH: "If city leaders wish to engage in a sincere effort to pass lead safe housing legislation, CLASH is ready and able to assist after years of developing legislation and bringing in experts to develop a bill suited to Cleveland’s needs. In the meantime, CLASH will continue to move forward with a ballot initiative." 

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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