United Way to serve as steward for funds tackling lead poisoning

United Way to serve as steward for funds tackling lead poisoning

The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition will receive $67 million from the Cleveland Clinic and the city of Cleveland, with the clinic selecting United Way of Greater Cleveland as the steward for its investment.

The Cleveland Clinic is dedicating $50 million over five years to the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition. Pending council approval, the city will provide $17 million over two years from American Rescue Plan Act funds to help ensure Cleveland homes are lead-free, according to a Jan. 13 news release from the Cleveland Clinic.

The donation more than doubles the $47.3 million the coalition had raised to date for its Lead Safe Home Fund, through which the coalition provides landlords with loans, grants and incentives to make their properties lead-safe.

United Way of Greater Cleveland’s involvement in stewarding the funds, and its role in the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition as a whole, directly aligns with its organizational mission, United Way President and CEO Augie Napoli told the Cleveland Jewish News.

“It’s absolutely spot on,” Napoli said. “It’s about getting to the root causes of poverty, all while at the same time, treating the symptoms. One of those root causes is housing instability, people not being able to maintain a home for one reason or another. The causes of that are things like lead poisoning. ... We felt like this was a great opportunity to help solve a root cause issue in our community that truly will do that and affect future generations. This really gets to the problem solving.”

In 2019, Cleveland City Council approved the Lead Safe Certification law, which requires all residential units constructed before 1978 to be certified as lead-safe by March 1, 2023. Nearly 90% of Cleveland’s housing stock was built before 1978, which is when residential lead paint was outlawed, according to the release.