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Community Partners Share Update on Efforts to Combat Threat of Lead Poisoning

Buffalo, N.Y. – Today the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the City of Buffalo, Erie County, and the Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force provided a progress update on a collaborative effort to protect children from lead poisoning. Buffalo is ranked among the top 10 cities in the country for incidents of elevated blood lead levels in children.  In 2018, a Lead Action Report was released by a dedicated group of partners that revealed that the most important factor in high rates of childhood lead poisoning is lead hazards in rental housing built before 1978. Approximately 80 percent of Buffalo’s children with elevated blood lead levels live in rental singles and doubles; and 27,000 Buffalo families with children live in high risk zip codes. For these reasons, lead poisoning disproportionately affects low income children and children of color.

“Our community has learned that the power of collaboration can conquer the most difficult challenges in Western New York—including lead poisoning,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “The Community Foundation remains committed to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential.”

The Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force was created to implement recommendations from the Lead Action Plan, which addresses the threat of lead poisoning within our region. Its work began this year and the progress by both the City and County has been encouraging.

Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “Through its partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and Erie County, the City has made significant progress in its campaign against lead poisoning. By hiring new staff dedicated to improving the safety of rental units located in Buffalo’s highest risk neighborhoods, in addition to several other City initiatives, we continue to commit resources to prevent lead poisoning among our most vulnerable residents.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Erie County is proud to partner with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the City of Buffalo to combat lead in our community. The Lead Safe Task Force will provide new tools in that fight, raising awareness of the dangers of lead poisoning and educating landlords with the new ‘Get Ahead of Lead’ website.  Investments in public health and safety such as these are beneficial to the entire community, and with this initiative we will be able to reach more homes, making more families safer and protecting more children in Erie County.”

Erie County Legislator District 2, Chair, April N.M. Baskin said, “I originally introduced a resolution to provide more educational services for children with lower blood lead levels in September 2018 that sought to address the lead hazard in our community. Our aging housing stock means that many children are being exposed to lead particles on a daily basis which can have lasting, negative impacts on their entire lives. I have worked diligently and intently to get this issue brought to the forefront in Erie County. After much work and dialogue with community activists, medical professionals and the Erie County Department of Health, we found an acceptable way to move this pilot program forward in 2020. We are committed to addressing the devastating effects of lead poisoning in Erie County, and I am grateful for the work of the Lead Safe Task Force for continuing to advocate for the children and families who desperately need their help.”

As part of this progress update, the partners unveiled an upcoming public education campaign entitled “Get Ahead of Lead.” The campaign includes a website, now live at www.GetAheadofLead.org, along with several community engagement tools and activities that are scheduled for official rollout next spring when renovation work picks up again. What makes this campaign unique is the use of human-centered design in its development, meaning that the target audience of landlords was included in the input and feedback during every step of development. 

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About the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Celebrating its centennial year in 2019, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo was established in 1919 to enhance and encourage long-term philanthropy in the Western New York community. A 501 (c)(3) organization, the Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. For 100 years the Community Foundation has made the most of the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and organizations who entrust charitable assets to the Community Foundation’s care. Learn more at www.cfgb.org.