Pete’s Perspectives: A Look at Efforts Across the State to End Lead Poisoning

We launched our LeadSafeCNY initiative this fall and have been really happy with the momentum building among community partners towards addressing the lead poisoning crisis in Syracuse. The launch of this initiative is the culmination of 5 years of our work to help convene the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative Greater Syracuse. There has been noteworthy coverage on Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard around the lead crisis, including a recent front page story on the link between negligent landlords, high childhood lead levels, tenants desperate for a place to live, and government funding policies for social services recipients. Here are some recent examples of similar efforts toward change in neighboring cities:

In Buffalo, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has led the effort for the city to become a Green and Healthy Homes site and partnered with the NYS Attorney General’s office to provide funding toward lead remediation and other environmental and safety improvements for resident-owned homes in the Buffalo.

For some time, the city of Rochester has been a leader in the fight against lead poisoning in the state. Lead exposure rates for children in Rochester have decreased markedly, due in no small part to changes in the city’s legal code. This allowed for more proactive regulation of rental properties and access for city code inspectors to make inspections of rental units. In partnership with the Rochester Area Community Foundation, the Rochester area also became a Green and Healthy Homes partner community.

The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region led a first-ever regional effort to address childhood lead poisoning, asthma and other home-based environmental issues by bringing the Green and Healthy Homes national model to the cities of Troy, Albany and Schenectady and convening a broad group of Capital Region stakeholders together.

The Community Foundation for Herkimer and Oneida Counties helped create the Lead-Free Mohawk Valley coalition, facilitated the introduction of Green and Healthy Homes principles to that region, and initiated an advocacy project to include other partners in public policy changes that would help lower lead poisoning rates for children throughout the state.

I am excited to see a group of community foundations throughout the Thruway Corridor, each having invested in creating collective impact networks to address these issues in their own region, now sharing a common interest in and advocating for statewide policy solutions – all of which holds great promise as we start the New Year.

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