Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Funds from NYS AG Boost Lead Abatement in Buffalo Homes [Buffalo Business First]

Feb 29, 2016 | Posted in News

Buffalo Business First - February 29, 2016:

By: Tracey Drury
Buffalo Business First Reporter

Using funds from a settlement with Mattel and Fisher-Price, the state will increase its investment in Buffalo initiative aimed at cutting lead levels in area homes.

The state Attorney General's office will allocate $346,825 more to the Buffalo Green and Healthy Homes Initiative to increase its home lead hazard intervention and remediation program. That’s in addition to $2.3 million previously awarded to the program.

The funds come from 2008 settlement with Mattel and its Fisher-Price subsidiary, which agreed to pay $12 million to a coalition of 38 states, including more than $340,000 to New York and to meet more stringent limits for lead in children’s products.

The additional investment will help fund childhood lead poisoning prevention efforts, including identifying at-risk children and promoting lead testing as well as remediation activities, such as the removal of lead paint and window replacement.

The new funds bring the total committed by the AG to the initiative to more than $2.5 million, making it the largest direct funder to date, said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president and CEO at the Community Foundation.

“They understand the critical nature of this issue, and most important, that this is 100 percent preventable,” she said. “We need to double down with our partners to accelerate our progress and do more. We have had initial success, but we need to accelerate that pace and increase the level of coordination of community resources.”

Lead contamination remains a significant challenge in Buffalo, which has the highest percentage of homes built before World War II among the nation’s large cities. Many of those old homes pre-date the banning of lead paint. Children in Buffalo test positive for lead poisoning at more than triple the state average, with one-third of all lead poisoning cases reported in New York outside of New York City located in areas of Buffalo.

Dr. Melinda Cameron, medical director of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Resource Center at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, said the new funds will help create home environments where children can grow up safe from the threat of lead exposure.

“The detrimental effects of lead poisoning are irreversible,” she said. “That is why eliminating lead hazards in homes before children are poisoned is so important.”

Buffalo Green and Healthy Homes Initiative was created in 2010 by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. With funding from the City of Buffalo, Erie County as well as state and federal sources, the program has coordinated 50 private and public organizations to address health, safety and energy efficiency problems at low income owner-occupied homes in the city. To date, the initiative has provided intervention and rehabilitation at more than 500 homes.

In 2014, the initiative was among three Erie County agencies to share in a $3.4 million federal allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Office’s lead hazard control program.

Dedecker said the initiative is issuing a threefold call to action that includes growing awareness among parents; holding property owners accountable for the condition of their homes and offering incentives to clean up the sites; and promoting screenings for infants and toddlers.

To view this story in Buffalo Business First, click here.

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