AG James Sues Syracuse Landlord For Exposing Children to Lead Hazards
State Attorney General Letitia James is suing a Syracuse landlord for exposing children to lead hazards. An investigation by her office found that at least 18 children were poisoned over more than six years at 17 homes owned by John Kiggins and his company Endzone Properties. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says he is glad James is partnering with the city to fight bad landlords.
"It's a welcome partnership. I think it sends a shot across the bow for our other bad and dangerous landlords, and sets a very significant precedent going forward that will hopefully get the attention of all our landlords."
At least 32 of Endzone's 89 properties were flagged by the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County for lead paint violations going back to 2015. Walsh says the city has programs which give financial assistance to landlords de-leading their properties. He says although the individual landlord will have to pay money out of pocket – the cost of doing nothing is far greater.
"We have landlords in the community that clearly don't want to work with us. There is a cost involved for these landlords, but again it's one we're willing to help with. The more significant cost is the cost to our children who are being poisoned everyday living in these conditions."
The AG’s investigation found that all of the children poisoned were children of color. Since 2012, 87 percent of all lead poisoned children in Onondaga County were from Syracuse. Data also shows that Black children are twice as likely as white children to have elevated blood lead levels.
James seeks to ban the illegal conduct and dangerous housing practices of Kiggins and Endzone, and compel them to provide lead-safe housing and complete truthful lead disclosures to tenants of properties they own or manage.