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CLASH begins to collect signatures for ballot initiative to make rental housing lead safe

(Plain Press, March 2019)Cleveland Lead Safe Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) announced they are prepared to gather signatures to place a proposed Lead Safe Housing initiative on the November ballot. The announcement came as part of a February 4thPress Conference held by CLASH member organizations at the office of Organize! Ohio.

The group released a copy of the proposed ordinance which they said they hope Cleveland City Council will pass immediately. However, the group is starting to collect the 5,000 valid signatures it needs to place the initiative on the ballot, just in case Cleveland City Council does not take action. The ordinance is a modified version of legislation former Cleveland City Council Representative Jeff Johnson introduced in 2017, which never received a full committee hearing.

Johnson, a member of CLASH said, “The time to act is now. We cannot continue to wait. There is no need for more commissions and conferences to do what we already know needs to be done. The children of Cleveland need us all to work together and take the action necessary to make their homes safe from lead. It is time to end this crisis.”

According to CLASH, they hope the City of Cleveland will pass legislation that will “1). Implement a legislative requirement that all rental properties are tested for lead hazards and be ‘lead safe’, 2) Identify and secure significant funding via a partnership with the private sector to assist landlords to make their properties safe from lead, and 3) Ensure tenant protections are provided.”

Steve Holecko of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, a CLASH member group, said the hope is that Cleveland City Council will look at this legislation and pass it as soon as possible. However, if this does not occur, Holecko said he is confident that citizens will speak again by signing their names to get the issue on the ballot and voting in favor of it in November.

Jeff Mixon of Black Lives Matter of Cuyahoga County, another CLASH member group, said the legislation offers hope that will save lives. He said that places that have reduced lead poisoning demonstrate a drop in the murder rate.

Larry Bresler of Organize! Ohio, a CLASH member, said “the clear way to address lead poisoning is to prevent it in the first place.”

Attorney Rebecca Maurer, who helped to update the bill’s language said the proposed ordinance integrates the “mandatory lead safe standard into the City’s rental registry program and the Healthy Homes initiative.”

CLASH member groups expressed confidence that they can easily get over 10,000 signatures to assure the placement of the ordinance on the November ballot. Member groups include: Cleveland Lead Safe Network, Single Payer Access Network, Cuyahoga Progressive Caucus, Black Lives Matter of Cuyahoga County, Cleveland End Poverty Now Coalition, Organize!Ohio, and the Cleveland Democratic Socialists of America.

CLASH announced that signatures are being collected at the West Side Market.  Jeff Mixon of Black Lives Matter, said he would be collecting signatures for CLASH on Saturday, March 2ndat the Carnegie Branch Library, 1900 Fulton, from 1-4 p.m.

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PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN
Monday, February 4, 2019; Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe House (CLASH) Press Conference, Organize Ohio Office, 3500 Lorain Avenue: Yvonka Hall, a member of CLASH and the Director of Outreach for the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, stresses the urgency of having a Lead Safe Housing ordinance in the City of Cleveland. She says, an average of four children test positive for lead poisoning each day in Cleveland.

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