DESCRIPTION OF THE STRATEGY
Public financing for the abatement of lead hazards, combined with code enforcement, provides both the carrot and the stick to provide lead-safe housing in high-risk neighborhoods. Landlords are most likely to be “persuaded” to address lead hazards if financial assistance is available to offset at least part of the cost of repairing/replacing windows and other lead hazards. The threat of being taken to court can be a powerful incentive to landlords. Combining code enforcement with financial incentives is especially useful to motivate action by landlords who own multiple high-risk properties and have limited resources.
Rental units are rendered safe from lead hazards. Depending on the scope of the program, results can range from a few units to an entire neighborhood or neighborhoods.
Reduction in childhood lead poisoning. In addition, there is a heightened awareness of childhood lead poisoning and how to prevent it.
An improved standard of habitability: for example, windows that were dilapidated or painted shut become operable.
Scope of Potential Impact
City - or - County - Wide
Specific (Targeted) Population
Staff requirements will vary depending on the scope of the program and the extent to which activities are performed in-house or contracted out. Post-work clearance must be performed by a trained staff member or contractor who is certified.
Other resource requirements:
A good database is critical to efficient operation. Access to standard professional specifications for the scope of work as well as uniform and reliable cost estimates for typical work will help build support from owners and landlords to participate in the program. In addition, for abatement programs, there must be a sufficient supply of trained and qualified contractors.
There must be clear legal authority to require owners to correct lead hazards or at least to repair deteriorated paint. In addition, there must be an institutional structure that can enforce code violations. This may be a municipal court or an administrative hearing process that has enforcement authority.
There must be a funding source to support lead hazard control as well as the code enforcement effort.
None; the program can be initiated at any time.
Moderate. Can be implemented wherever the basic requirements are in place: political support, a staff commitment to working with landlords, legal authority, an operating code enforcement program, a skilled workforce, and financial aid to owners.
There must be political support to undertake the program and political will to use code enforcement authority to take action against recalcitrant landlords if they don’t agree to repair their properties. Landlords can be expected to appeal to political leadership to forego or curtail the program.
Most difficult of all is getting landlords to buy in to the program. First, it is often difficult to find out who the actual owner of a specific property is. Second, it is even more difficult to get owners to come to a public meeting or agree to a private meeting. Third, if the owner does attend, he or she needs to be convinced to participate in the program and to pay for at least a portion of the repairs. The absence of a strategy on how to deal with landlords, including absentee landlords, can constitute a considerable barrier to success.