BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local partnership is stepping up to help small landlords get the lead out of their apartments. The bottom line for these private and public leaders is protecting children from lead poisoning.
The City of Buffalo and Erie County are leveraging an $800,000 grant from Attorney General Letitia James to establish a $3 million revolving loan fund for small and low-income landlords after the attorney general reached a settlement with a group of landlords and property owners.
“The most important thing we can do in a community is protect our children,” said Rev. Kinzer Pointer, Liberty Missionary Baptist Church.
The Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force announced a $3 million loan fund to help small landlords across the county remove toxic lead from their property. Studies show children with elevated blood lead levels are prone to kidney damage, learning delays, and other health disorders that are hard to reverse.
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“Lead poisoning steals the potential of our children when they are most vulnerable, birth to age six, and it lasts a lifetime. So this situation is wholly unacceptable because lead poisoning is 100% preventable,” said Cara Matteliano, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
Buffalo has some of the oldest housing stock in the country, which equates to a large concentration of lead paint used in many older homes built before 1978.
Peeling paint on walls and windows is sometimes ingested by children.
“What we are trying to do is provide things like replacement windows and siding, all the areas where you traditionally have lead problems in households,” said Kerry Quaglia, Home HeadQuarters.
Home HeadQuarters is administering the three-million-dollar loan program with KeyBank, M&T, and Evans Bank putting up the funds.
“We want to get to the place in the city of Buffalo and in Erie County where no child, no child is robbed of their potential because of lead poisoning,” Mayor Byron Brown, City of Buffalo said.
“If we are not working to eradicate these conditions, we are saying it is okay for children to be negatively impacted for the balance of their lives. There is no safe lead exposure level to children. Zero,” added Rev. Pointer.
The loan program can provide a loan of up to $5,000 or 20 percent of the cost of the project, and is limited to landlords owning one to four apartments.
Officials have identified 155 landlords so far, but say it is just the tip of the iceberg.
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Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.