Onondaga County announced this week that the Central New York Community Foundation’s LeadSafeCNY initiative would be receiving $500,000 to put toward the cost of replacing exterior doors and windows in rental units resided in by low-income individuals.
The renovations will be completed by nonprofit housing and community development organization Home HeadQuarters at no cost to property owners through a deferred loan. Property owners are required to retain ownership for a two-year compliance period, enforced through a lien placed on the property. Since LeadSafeCNY launched in 2018, more than 1,400 windows and 150 doors have been replaced and more than 190 safe and affordable rental units have been either newly constructed or renovated. Home HeadQuarters estimates that an additional 40 affordable rental units will have significant lead hazards removed thanks to this new funding.
The EPA reports that chipping lead paint is the leading source of lead poisoning in the United States. Due to friction points from frequent opening and closing, doors and windows are the primary sources of paint chips and dust particles that contain lead. Elevated blood lead levels in young children have been found to cause reduced brain function, impacting the skills needed for academic success, physical activity and social interaction. This can lead to a higher likelihood of ADHD diagnosis, absenteeism, criminal behavior, violence and suicide.
The Community Foundation established LeadSafeCNY in 2018, committing to invest $2 million to fund a variety of approaches to address the region’s high childhood lead poisoning rates. According to the Onondaga County Health Department, 10 percent of Syracuse children tested in 2021 were shown to have elevated blood lead levels. The total amount invested in the community to date through LeadSafeCNY is $2.3 million.
Those interested in learning more about LeadSafeCNY or viewing local lead data can visit leadsafecny.org. Property owners interested in applying for the Windows & Doors program at Home HeadQuarters can visit www.homehq.org.