Buffalo is an older city with mostly older housing. Much of that older housing has lead paint.
While that paint is not dangerous by itself, it can be chipped or scraped off or even bitten off by a child. That lead is very bad for a child whose brain is still developing.
Erie County has a very high rate of lead poisoning among the very young. Mayor Brown says lead is such a problem in Buffalo the city is helping build affordable housing with no lead.
Measures approved by Buffalo's Common Council Tuesday will tighten a series of city ordinances aimed at finding out which buildings are likely to have lead and potentially barring a certificate of occupancy for rental property with known lead.
"The landlord has to hire an individual that is a registered agent of that property and he needs to get a license in the City of Buffalo," said Fillmore District Councilmember David Franczyk. "And before that property can be rented, there has to be a certificate that says that the property is lead-free."
Property managers in the city are supposed to be licensed, but some are not. The ordinances tighten the controls if there is a problem with housing managed by someone who does not have one of those licenses.
"What if the landlords cannot afford to remediate properties and paint over? Then those landlords have a problem, because at the end of the day, if you own a home and especially if you are renting a home to other people, you have a responsibility to ensure that that home is safe," said Council President Darius Pridgen. "And it's the same way if there were no steps on the home. The city isn't going to come in and put steps in front of the home that you own, that you are getting money for, that you're renting out. It's the landlord's responsibility."
Pridgen pointed out the history of the city means there are lead problems in all parts of the community, whether covered by later paint or not, whether low-income or upscale neighborhoods. Erie County remains the primary lead-abatement agency.