Rochester’s lead law spurs success; Toledo tries similar effort – toledoblade.com

Rochester’s lead law spurs success; Toledo tries similar effort

by: Lauren Lindstrom

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — At the end of a hours-long meeting that ran late into the night, city council members in Rochester unanimously voted in December, 2005, to adopt a controversial and novel ordinance aimed at reducing the number of children poisoned by lead in the city.

Now more than a decade and 141,000 inspections later, the number of children tested with lead poisoning in Rochester is less than a third of what it was the year the law passed.

“All of us feel a sense of ownership of this, that we did this together,” said Wade Norwood, whose last act in his 15-year tenure on Rochester council was to ensure the lead ordinance passed. “This was taking the city into uncharted territory.”

Rochester’s lead law has served as a model for health and environmental researchers across the country, as well as municipalities looking for a model to follow, including Toledo.

A city of about 210,000 in upstate New York, Rochester had more than 1,000 children test positive with lead poisoning in 2003, two years before the ordinance passed. County health officials there identified children with blood lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter or greater, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s level of concern at the time.

In Lucas County in 2015, there were 285 children with confirmed lead levels at or above the CDC’s current poisoning threshold of five micrograms or greater, a level that was revised after researchers determined lead exposure has caused damage in smaller quantities than previously known. Another 211 children tested with preliminary elevated levels, but did not receive a second confirmatory test.

Efforts by local health and advocacy groups prompted Toledo City Council to approve in August, 2016, a first-in-Ohio lead ordinance requiring landlords of older rental properties to test for lead, legislation modeled after Rochester.

Among the myriad health issues associated with lead poisoning according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: damage to a child’s brain and nervous system, slow growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems.

Rochester’s Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, along with health and political officials, based their city’s law on prevention.

“Once a kid has lead in their blood, it affects how their bodies and brains develop; you can’t readily undo that damage. We’re really focused on preventing exposure in the first place,” said Katrina Korfmacher, an associate professor in the department of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a member of the coalition since 2001.

“To do that, you really need policy change because we as a society allowed lead to be painted all over our older housing stock.” she said. “It’s not the fault of the people who live there now; it’s not the fault of the people who own the housing now; it’s a problem we all allowed to happen. But in order to keep that lead from getting into kids, we need to maintain housing in good condition so the paint is intact, so that you don’t have lead dust on the floors so it can get in kids’ mouths.”

Much like changes in laws and practices that now require seat belts or discourage smoking while pregnant, a better scientific understanding of lead’s danger should prompt policy change, said coalition member Elizabeth McDade, who is also ‎program coordinator for the Rochester Safe and Efficient Homes Initiative.

“Our law was based upon the idea that you can’t rent a property, a home to children that has a neurotoxin in it,” she said. “You can’t open a restaurant that has a bubbling cauldron of biohazard in the middle of the restaurant floor, they won’t let you do that. We know what the [lead] issue is, we know how to fix it, let’s do that.”

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There are more renters than any time since 1965 – cnbc.com

There are more renters than any time since 1965

  • More U.S. households are headed by renters than at any point since at least 1965.
  • However, the top renter regret is not buying.

by: Abigail Summeville

There are more renters than any time since 1965 from CNBC.

More people are renting than at any other point in the past 50 years.

In 2016, 36.6 percent of household heads rented their home, close to the 1965 number of 37 percent, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center based on data from the Census Bureau. Each month the Census Bureau surveys a nationally representative sample of households.

The total number of U.S. households grew by 7.6 million over the past decade, Pew reported. However, the number of households headed by owners remained relatively flat, while households headed by renters grew by nearly 10 percent during the same time period.

Rising home prices, lingering fears from the housing crash, and larger amounts of student debt are some of the reasons why many Americans see the appeal of renting, said Richard Fry, a senior researcher at Pew and one of the report’s authors.

“There is some evidence that increased student debt has made it more difficult for households headed by young adults to become homeowners,” Fry said.

And millennials (those age 35 and younger) continue to be the most likely of all age groups to rent, Pew found. In 2016, 65 percent of households headed by young adults were renting, up 8 percentage points from 2006.

Other reasons could be that young adults haven’t accumulated enough wealth for a down payment on a house, Fry said. Also, owning a home inhibits moving, and young adults are the most likely age group to move, so they may prefer not to own just yet, he said.

The happy homeowner

However, cautious renters may not be making the best decision for their long-term happiness. Renters’ top regret was wishing they had bought instead of renting (41 percent), according to a recent Trulia survey.

“One thing our research has found is that people can sometimes be a little too cautious,” said Trulia’s managing editor, David Weidner. “In every U.S. major market, it’s cheaper to buy a home than it is to rent over seven years. And it’s really not even close.”

Housing prices have been rising, with the median value of all homes in the U.S. in June surpassing $200,000, up 7 percent from a year ago. In the long run though, buying is still a better deal than renting, said Weidner.

People must realize that although a mortgage seems like a huge investment, your incomes are likely to rise, especially if you’re a millennial, Weidner said, and over time the housing payment won’t seem as big.

“The toughest times [after buying a house] is in those first few years. Down the road those costs will start to shrink as part of the overall home budget,” Weidner said.

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