© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Buffalo tightens lead paint rules for rental property

Buffalo is pushing hard against bad landlords and bad property managers in the fight against lead poisoning, especially lead poisoning in children.

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.

"During my time as mayor of the City of Buffalo, we have taken over $30 million strategically that flow through the city to leverage over $230 million of affordable housing development, creating more than 1,300 new units of affordable housing in the City of Buffalo," said Brown.

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.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.