Our kids are not alright. Syracuse is not alright. As a community, we are facing a crisis of astounding proportions, and it is affecting our children first and foremost.
While lead paint was banned from use 40 years ago, local children are still being poisoned in their own homes at an alarming rate. This issue hits our highest poverty neighborhoods hardest, where most residents live in deteriorating housing built before 1980 and costly repairs can often exceed property values.
There is no safe blood lead level in children and once its damage is done, it is irreversible. Ingestion of lead can damage brain development and rob children of the ability to reach their full potential. Lead in the human body has been found to reduce brain function, impacting the skills needed for academic success, physical activity and social interaction. It can lead to a higher likelihood of attention deficit disorders, absenteeism, criminal behavior, violence and suicide.
As a community, each poisoned child comes with a cost paid by all of us. These complications not only incur a significant social expense, but also undermine all community efforts to increase literacy rates, encourage high school completion and mentor our young people into successful careers. The lead poisoning of our children is a social, economic and environmental injustice that is simply unacceptable.
Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. That is why the Central New York Community Foundation is taking action to put a stop to it. Over the next four years, we are committing more than $2 million to make residences lead-safe, with a focus on the Syracuse census tracts that house children with the highest blood lead levels. We want our young people to be able to arrive in the classroom able and ready to learn and on a path to reach their fullest potential.
In conjunction with many community partners, our collective efforts will include funding, impact investments and collaboration toward the following:
Construction of new, affordable housing that is free of lead and other safety hazards commonly associated with deteriorating housing.
Renovation of Existing Housing
Renovation of existing homes to make them lead safe. Efforts will include the removal of lead paint in high-traffic friction areas and the replacement of windows and doors.
Education & Awareness
Community outreach to increase public awareness of the risk, availability of testing and prevention of lead poisoning.
Workforce Development & Landlord Education
Training of EPA-certified contractors for the safe removal of lead in homes; education of landlords on the importance and process of lead removal from their properties.
Public Policy & Legislation
Advocating for effective lead violation and housing code enforcement; conducting research that supports meaningful legislation.
Collective Impact Efforts
Continued grant funding, convening and facilitation assistance to the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Greater Syracuse to assist low-income Syracuse households in creating homes free of health and safety hazards.
It is time to put a stake in the ground and eradicate childhood lead poisoning in Syracuse. Together, we can do better for our city’s children. We hope you will join us in our efforts to put an end to this injustice and give our next generation of residents hope for a brighter future.
Peter A. Dunn
President & CEO
Central New York Community Foundation
View our community investments.