Prevention of lead poisoning requires a multi-pronged approach, including increasing public awareness, providing information and assistance to families with newborns and young children that may be at risk, increasing the supply of affordable lead safe housing, and enabling families with young children to evaluate housing units and select or remain in housing units that are lead safe. It calls for public policy to keep homes safe and lead free, and public-private collaboration across health, housing and legal sectors among others.
The Saint Luke’s Foundation, alongside many other funding partners, invested in CASE, Enterprise and EHW to bring data, policy and coalition leadership as well as technical expertise in home remediation with the end goal of ending childhood lead poisoning in Cleveland.
Case Western Reserve University's Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development was engaged to plan and implement a comprehensive approach to creating a lead-safe Cleveland through data and research. Detailed data is necessary on the children that are at risk, the housing units and their owners that are likely sources of lead exposure, the neighborhoods and locations that are most affected, the relative costs and effectiveness of preventive interventions, and the excess costs resulting from Cleveland children that have been lead poisoned and require intervention.
Environmental Health Watch is a valued partner and niche leader who spearheaded the Healthy Homes Model - a best practice protocol developed over the past 20 years with local and national partners. Through this work, they address unhealthy housing in collaboration with residents, landlords, and renters. Environmental Health Watch delivers technical expertise in healthy home training, technical consulting, home hazard assessment and remediation and has a new audit tool to serve a broad range of clients and bring healthy home interventions to scale regionally.
Enterprise Community Partners serves as the lead, navigating complex policy and political questions and serving as an umbrella organization for the Lead Safe Home Coalition. Enterprise led the introduction and passage of comprehensive lead prevention policies and is developing the structure of a lead safe home fund.
Working in lock step, The Center on Urban Poverty and Community development has brought critical data that will be used to create lasting policy. These data include: creating a profile of Cleveland landlords and their holdings, running cost scenarios for lead hazard control and quantifying downstream outcomes of the impact of lead on children. Simultaneously, Enterprise, with deep experience in coalition and policy building, relied on the technical expertise and leadership of Environmental Health Watch to create a city-wide coalition: The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition. Early efforts underway have included identification of best practice and financial tools and resources, engagement with residents, those impacted directly by lead poisoning and those who have been working in the field, relationship and partnership with key stake holders, persons of influence and city leaders and use of data and research in the formation of an action plan. A city-wide summit took place in June of 2019 and comprehensive lead poisoning prevention legislation was approved on July 24th. The formation of a coalition with diffuse leadership has allowed expertise across broad areas of action to engage and bring voice to this complex work. The partners have truly created a system with large and small pieces, all in service to the goal of ending childhood lead poisoning.
Coalition building has always been a core value of Enterprise Ohio but the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition has elevated the very conception of what is possible when residents, organizations, and community leaders come together on a shared priority. Mirroring the example set by the Funders Concerned about Lead Poisoning, the Coalition represents a dynamic collaboration of 300+ members from different walks of life, all with the same core objective to prevent lead poisoning by improving our homes. We are proud of our role facilitating this collaboration as the backbone organization, cross-coalition connector, and amplifier. The objective isn’t only to improve policies, it is to shift political will and make systemic change.
Mark McDermott, Vice President, Ohio Enterprise Community Partners