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Detroit kids’ lead poisoning rates higher than Flint

W Boston front

Lead in the news surprises no one after the tragedy we’ve witnessed in Flint. The Detroit News has highlighted the pervasiveness of lead in Detroit as well, where we are seeing lead poisoning rates among tested children that are more than four times higher than in Flint. The city has decided to take a primary prevention focus by passing an amendment to their Rental Property Maintenance Ordinance. The changes introduced create a path for landlords to get their rental properties up-to-code and lead-safe within a certain time frame. With most of the housing stock built before the 1978 laws banning the use of lead-based paint in homes, this issue touches nearly every homeowner and tenant in Detroit. The Detroit Health Department has observed an increase in lead poisoning rates for the first time in over a decade. Along with the health department, CLEARCorps Detroit and Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies have partnered to reach out to families to inform them about lead poisoning, provide options for grant opportunities to renovate and remove lead hazards from the home, and create a dialogue around healthy housing.

To learn more, read the full article from the Detroit News here.

Detroit City Council OKs stricter rental property ordinance

Wooden window with lead paint. This is a common sight at Detroit properties

Wooden window with lead paint. This is a common sight at Detroit properties

 

On October 31st, 2017, the Detroit City Council opted to pass an amendment to their Rental Property Maintenance Code. This new amendment creates a system for outreach and enforcement with  the goal of bringing rental properties in Detroit up to code withing two years.

This amended ordinance will be phased out in “compliance zones,” which are geographic areas where enforcement will begin, and then reach out through the rest of the city in staggered start dates. Once a “zone” is opened, landlords will have six months to get their properties up to code. New zones will be opened 90 days following the opening of the previous zone.

If a landlord does not bring their property up to code within the six month window, they will not legally be allowed to collect rent. For three months following the initial six month period, a tenant must put their rent into escrow. If the landlord brings the property up to code during those three months, the rent money is handed over. If the property is not brought up to code, then the tenant may recollect their rent money that was placed in escrow. This process then repeats if the home continues to remain without repair.

In addition, this amendment also provides for the city withholding a landlord’s certificate of compliance if more than $1,000 in property taxes has been unpaid for over six months, year lead inspection requirements, reduction in inspection frequency for landlords without blight violations and paid taxes, as well as an more rapid path for appealing the denial of a certificate of compliance.

This is a major step to bring Detroit’s housing stock into the 21st century. As we continue our fight to eliminate lead poisoning in the city, we would like to applaud the Detroit City Council for passing this amendment to protect the health of the children in our community.

For more information, click here.