CLEVELAND, OHIO -- While President Trump is moving quickly and aggressively to implement his plan to "Make America Great Again," Mayor Frank Jackson wants to make Cleveland's rental properties safe again, slowly.
Jackson said the city's new plan to inspect rental properties for safety violations will be phased-in, over a five-year period, beginning this summer.
The mayor argued that by moving too quickly or aggressively, the city risked displacing too many poor families and placing too much of a burden on landlords.
Last week, Jackson met with reporters to discuss the plan that was prompted by the city's ongoing lead poisoning crises.
The Plain Dealer's Toxic Neglect series found that less than half of the homes where children had been exposed to lead poisoning had been inspected, over a five- year period.
A new team of 13 inspectors were hired with money from November's tax increase. It's hard to believe, but the new inspection team marks the city's first attempt to conduct routine rental inspections.
Jackson said the city faces a "moral dilemma" in carrying out the inspection plan. "If you're talking about a very mechanical kind of thing, you know, half of the places would be closed up. If you're talking about it in terms of the ethical or moral thing, probably three quarters of the places would be closed up. It's the way it is." Jackson said that's "one of the reasons why our people are taking so long is because of that -- that decision around that moral dilemma.
The Plain Dealer's Rachel Dissel and Brie Zeltner reported that those closest to the issue had mixed reactions to Jackson's comments, "some saying the mayor put a finger on a problem central to improving the safety of the city housing; others arguing his off-the-cuff estimates exaggerate the problem and provide an easy excuse for delay or inaction."
Dissel and Zeltner reported, "officials in Rochester (New York) said concerns similar to Jackson's were floated a decade ago when the city instituted citywide inspections for lead hazards that have since resulted in a more than 80 percent drop in the number of kids poisoned by led."
A Rochester housing official told The Plain Dealer that landlords who left the market shouldn't have been in it anyway, and the rest adjusted to the enforced code standards.
Cleveland Lead Safe Network representative Spencer Wells told Dissel and Zeltner that the group would like to see legislation that sets a "lead-safe" housing standard that's more affordable than making a home "lead-free."
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development currently requires homes to be made "lead-safe" and maintained. "Lead-safe" basically entails sealing chipping paint and painting over it with lead-free paint. The cost is the cost of a can a paint,brush and roller, plus the labor. If that bare minimum isn't doable for any landlord, then they have no business being a landlord.
Jackson wants to do landlords a favor by phasing in safety inspections, but he's not doing the children of Cleveland a favor by taking another five-years to fully inspect unsafe homes. Neurotoxins don't take their time to poison children like Jackson wants to take his time doing what should have been done years ago.
The mayor and the city leaders need to act with the same sense of urgency they act with on maintaining and improving the homes of the Cleveland Cavaliers , Browns and Indians. The health of Cleveland's children should be a bigger priority than the playpens of billionaires and millionaires.
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.