Lead abatement program lagging behind - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Lead abatement program lagging behind

Lead abatement program lagging behind. (Source: AP Images) Lead abatement program lagging behind. (Source: AP Images)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

There is no doubt that the City of Cleveland's lead paint assessment and removal program has been a mess for many years. Six months ago heads rolled, and Monday City Council heard that putting the program back on track is no simple task. Interim Health Department Director Latoya Walker told council, "We have a backlog of 2997 is what we had that dated back to 2003."

It is a staggering number. That many homes with lead paint. It is so bad that 40% of children entering kindergarten have lead levels above the state
threshold. Make no mistake Walker and six new employees inherited a mess, she said.

"When the opened the closets to look at the cases, the cases years and months were mixed in together so literally we had to organize to get to the point where we are now," said Interim Health Department Director Latoya Walker.

But where they are isn't where they wanted to be. They won't even have a handle on the problem until September. And getting lead inspections done
falls to just one person, previously there had been a dozen.

Here's where things stand. They were unable to get in touch with 57 people, inspections were done but compliance not met in 946 cases. 300 others
are in compliance after inspections, and 31 are not for a total of 1334.

Walker says hiring inspectors is another hurdle. 

"We had the vacancy posted, only 5 people applied, 6 people applied, only one person met the requirements of the Ohio Department of Health," added Walker.

One statistic stands out above all others, it defines the scope of the task ahead. And that is that Cuyahoga County has more homes with lead paint hazards than all other Ohio counties combined.

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