Thursday, August 24, 2017

Toledo Announces Extension of Lead-Safe Deadline

Toledo announces an extension of its new lead-safe ordinance after a slow start
to inspection and remediation of lead hazards. 

In Toledo, Ohio, a new lead paint ordinance has been met with resistance by city officials. The ordinance, passed last year, required all buildings constructed before 1978 with one to four rental units to be lead-safe certified by September 2017. Yet as a result of bureaucratic pushback, many buildings are out of compliance and city officials have extended deadlines.

Enforcement of Toledo's lead law has been off to a slow start. As of July 28, 2017, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department reports that 234 out of 50,000 buildings affected by the lead ordinance have registered and passed the required lead inspection. The new deadline for lead-safe certification compliance is now June 30, 2018, with deadlines for buildings deemed less imminently dangerous set for 2019 and 2020.

Properties that pass the inspection will receive either a one, three, or six-year certificate. One-year certificates are given to Section-8 housing, which must be annually tested for lead by law. Three-year certifications are given to properties that previously failed a lead inspection. Six-year certificates are given to properties that passed on the first try.

City officials hope the deadline extensions and flexible certification will encourage landlords to comply with the ordinance.

"The change to the amendment is positive. Now you have three different time frames available, so it's a good way to stretch this out and to try to get all of the property owners within a ear is just a lot of work to be done. It not only helps us but provides landlords with multiple properties more time to get everything done," David Welch, Toledo Director of Environmental Health and Community Services, said in a recent press release.

Since last September, the ordinance has caused a divide between city officials. Critic say that the new law is expensive and unfairly targets small property landlords; defenders say that the ordinance protects the city's most vulnerable from lead poisoning.

The biggest opposition to the ordinance came from Rep. Dereck Merrin (R-Monclova) of the Ohio House of Representatives. Rep. Merrin attempted to add an amendment to a state budget that would nullify the lead ordinance. This amendment was denied by the Ohio Senate.

According to Rep. Merrin, Toledo's lead ordinance unfairly targets small property owners, who might struggle to cover the costs of lead inspection and registration fees.

"Toledo's law is intellectually inconsistent and undercuts its own premise by seeking to protect only a select group of children," Rep. Dereck Merrin wrote in an op-ed recently.

Other city officials argue that the ordinance specifies small, older units because that's simply where the bulk of the lead is.

"Toledo is a leader in the state in creating a new law to prevent lead poisoning in the city, and is working toward lead safe homes for all of our children," Paula Hicks-Hudson, Mayor of Toledo, said in a recent press release.

This year, Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated $2.9 million to Toledo for lead hazard-related improvements; more lead inspections and abatements are expected to take place in the city this year.

To learn more about Toledo's lead ordinance, visit Toledo's official website. To learn more about lead inspection and how you can get involved in this dynamic field, visit Zack Academy.

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