Buffalo, N.Y. – Today the Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force joined Mayor Byron W. Brown, Home HeadQuarters, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and representatives from M&T Bank, KeyBank, and Evans Bank to announce the formal launch of the City of Buffalo’s loan fund which will assist landlords who undertake lead remediation and other improvement projects in their rental units. This is just one of many resources available in an effort to develop solutions for landlords to provide healthy housing for tenants and protect children from lead poisoning.
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. Since then, the Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force has been working to implement the recommendations from the report, including increased resources to improve rental properties.
This loan fund is part of a spectrum of resources available to landlords and will be administered by Home HeadQuarters, a nonprofit housing and community development organization, which recently opened an office in Buffalo. The landlord fund includes $400,000 for grants to City of Buffalo landlords, which was funded from a settlement obtained by Attorney General James’s office through the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency. Grants for eligible City of Buffalo landlords will be capped at $5,000 or 20% of the total loan amount and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Our children deserve safe and healthy homes, free from dangerous toxins,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “My office has taken countless actions against bad landlords across the state to protect our children and families from the dangers of lead paint, including a lawsuit against landlords in Buffalo for repeatedly violating lead paint protection laws. I am proud to support the Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force’s revolving loan fund which will build on our efforts to protect our tenants from lead poisoning. We will always take action to hold bad actors accountable and invest in safe housing programs for the people of New York.”
The City of Buffalo, working with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, was able to leverage the $400,000 to secure an additional $3.1 million from the following banks for loans through a credit facility to Home HeadQuarters: $1.1 million from Evans Bank; $1 million from KeyBank; and $1 million from M&T Bank. Loans will be for qualifying landlords who live in Erie County and the City of Buffalo and will be capped at $25,000.
Mayor Byron Brown said, “I want to thank Evans Bank, KeyBank and M&T Bank, for their investment in quality housing in Buffalo. Support for Home HeadQuarters’ loan fund program is one of the many ways my Administration is addressing the need to expand the number of healthy, affordable, and accessible rental units in the City of Buffalo. Through partnerships with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency we are making sure that the small unit landlord community is supported as we recover from the disruptions caused by COVID and that they have the resources to ensure the housing they rent complies with the City’s ordinances and requirements to protect the health and well-being of the families who live there.”
“Home HeadQuarters is honored to administer the Buffalo and Erie County Landlord Property Loan Fund and bring our more than 25 years of affordable and accessible lending experience to Western New York property owners,” said Kerry Quaglia, CEO, Home HeadQuarters. “We’re proud to be a part of this hard-working collaborative effort to get vital home improvement capital into the hands of property owners who can then make these homes safer for the tenants living there.”
“As a leading mortgage provider on Buffalo’s East Side, we are excited to continue our commitment by partnering with Home HeadQuarters on this important and needed initiative. As a community bank, we take great pride in being able to work together to ensure that home owners and landlords have the affordable capital needed to make emergency home repairs in Buffalo and Erie County,” Dave Nasca, President & CEO Evans Bank.
“The Buffalo & Erie County Landlord Property Improvement Fund provides landlords with a new, transformational opportunity to address lead paint hazards and other health and safety needs in their rental properties,” said Michael McMahon, KeyBank Buffalo Market President and Commercial Sales Leader. “All of us at KeyBank are proud to support this initiative that is critical to building strong, safe neighborhoods and communities.”
“Every family should have access to safe, affordable and high-quality housing — and this collaborative effort is an important next step,” said Brad Dossinger, M&T Bank Director of Community Reinvestment. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to work together to provide the funding necessary to upgrade local rental homes and combat lead poisoning. Driven by our purpose to make a difference in people’s lives, our team at M&T Bank is committed to doing our part to uplift our community with access to resources and solutions that meet our region’s diverse housing needs. Thank you to the coalition of partners that joined forces to make this new revolving loan fund possible.”
Landlords seeking resources to improve the quality of their rental housing units should visit the Home HeadQuarters website at: https://www.homehq.org/rental for information on how to apply. In addition to Home HeadQuarters’ underwriting criteria, landlords who take advantage of the grant component, must comply with all of the City’s rental ordinances.
“The Buffalo & Erie County Lead Safe Task Force is comprised of leaders from government, higher education, philanthropy, medicine, grassroots organizations and faith traditions. This announcement today moves us closer to our collective goal of providing solutions to create real change that will eradicate lead poisoning in our community. Change like this takes coordination and time and we believe this is a positive step forward in supporting landlords with resources to ensure every rental unit in our community provides a safe and healthy environment for our children,” said Buffalo & Erie County Lead Safe Task Force Co-Chairs: Melanie Desiderio, Deputy Director of Environmental Health, Erie County and Cathy Amdur, Deputy Commissioner of Permits and Inspections, City of Buffalo.
“Recognizing that approximately 80 percent of Buffalo’s children with elevated blood lead levels live in rental singles and doubles, the Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force has been linking arms with partners in the City, County and New York State to eradicate lead poisoning using several complementary strategies. We are grateful for all our community partners for their commitment to furthering this collaborative mission by providing solutions to help landlords ensure healthy housing for every child in Erie County,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
Landlords, tenants, homeowners, and small business owners who are trying to find additional information and resources to make their properties lead safe should visit http://www.getaheadoflead.org/resources to see a full list of resources available.
PHOTO CAPTION: Community leaders announce new landlord loan fund on February 2, 2022. Pictured left to right: Thomas Beauford, Jr., President and CEO of Buffalo Urban League; Hon. Byron W. Brown, Mayor of Buffalo; Kerry Quaglia, Chief Executive Officer of HOME HeadQuarters; Chi-Chi Owunwanne, Corporate Responsibility Officer, KeyBank; Royce Woods, Vice President of Community Development, Evans Bank; Cara Matteliano, Senior Director, Policy and Strategic Partnerships, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; Reverend Kinzer Pointer, Pastor, Agape Fellowship Baptist Church; Katie O’Connor, Western New York Regional CRA Officer, M&T Bank.