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CNY Community Foundation Funding Lead Paint Remediation Projects In Two Syracuse Neighborhoods

 Lead paint applied to a porch, cracking and flaking off.
Wikimedia Commons
Lead paint applied to a porch, cracking and flaking off.

Some Syracuse neighborhoods that have the highest levels of lead poisoning are slowly being made safer. Jeff is a landlord who was able to utilize a Central New York Community Foundation program to help reduce the threat by replacing doors and windows for his tenants.

“That’s significant because windows, because they move, create friction, which can disturb the paint that the window casement are painted with, which in 90% of the homes in Syracuse can include lead paint and then release lead dust in the window casement that can be inhaled by children in the house," said Jeff.

The Community Foundation’sLead Safe program made a commitment to invest $2 million in various strategies to reduce lead poisoning and its impacts on especially Syracuse’s children. Community Investment Vice President Frank Ridzi says they targeted specific areas.

"When you looked at the county, maybe about 5% of children are suffering from lead poisoning, and then when you look at the city it doubles, 10%. And then when you look at certain neighborhoods it doubles again. It’s close to 25%," said Ridzi. "So we really focus on two key neighborhoods on the North and South side. And we’re circling back to see what investments have we made? How do we need to be more vigilant?"

To date Lead Safe has replaced 736 windows and more than 100 doors, all for free for the landlord or homeowner. Another aspect of the program is to raise awareness through community groups and media.

"So we want to make sure that parents were aware but also children were aware. One of the things that we are concerned with is that the number of people reporting that their home or child has not been tested for led has actually gone up. This is worrisome to us, but it also reinforces that awareness has gone up,” said Ridzi.

Ridzi adds more than 100 people have been trained in safe lead mitigation that has created jobs and protected landlords. Jeff says he and other property owners should be compelled to make their homes or apartments safe.

“Any property that a landlord owns, including me, any future properties I own, I’ve got to test for lead and make sure that I take steps to remediate any issues with lead," said Jeff. "And I think it’s an obligation that any landlord has. I definitely feel like it’s an obligation that I have.”

The Community Foundation plans to extend the Lead Safe program through next year.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.