CNY Community Foundation Takes Aim at Removing Lead Paint from Homes- Heat Map: A Glimpse at Our Neighborhood Investments


The commitment to their lead program was “a further investment, to shore up the other investments that  to CNY Community foundation has been made making in the quality of lie in this community.”

In 2018, the Community Foundation committed to invest $2 million to help put an end to childhood lead poisoning in Syracuse. Here is a look at the impact CNY Community Foundation investments have made so far. Click on following link for detailed chart of accomplishments  leadsafecny_investment_map.

According to Frank Ridzi, Vice President for Community Investment, “Central New York Community Foundation has been investing in the future of our community for decades. We have investing in early childhood education we also run Say Yes to Education– Syracuse, we helped launch that. We’ve been investing in the long-term opportunities of our youth to thrive. When we learned through our CNY Vitals website that our county has higher than other county lead poisoning. We were alarmed, that really threatened to undermine all of our other investments; It undermines our investments in early Childhood, early literacy, Say Yes to Education Syracuse pipeline. If children are poisoned that early on, that undermines their efforts to succeed in this pipeline towards college and a career.”

“Noticing that, in our CNY Vitals website prompted some further investigation and some partnership with Onondaga County Health Department, to really look deeper into this and to figure out what was going on. When we did that, we realized that this is was also an issue of equity, also an issue of racial and other equity. Whereas there were much lower numbers of children being poisoned county-wide only about 5% were being exposed to lead. When we looked at the city that doubled to about 11%. When we looked at specific neighborhoods it doubled again to near 25%. We realized that this was not only undermining our other efforts, but also it was something you could get your arms around.”

“You could actually see the neighborhoods where 1 in 4 children were likely getting poisoned. And you could try to do something about it. That’s when we decided to act, our board (of directors) was very much on board with taking immediate action. We reached out to community partners. And tried to figure out what were the ways that we could try to address this larger structural issue. An Issue that was systematically disadvantaging youth in certain neighborhoods for the rest of their lives. So that’s what really sparked us. It was out of equity and fairness to those children, giving them just as good a head start as others on life. We really believe helping those youth will help the entire community. “

The commitment to their lead program was “a further investment, to shore up the other investments that  CNY Community foundation has made in the quality of life in this community.”

Ridzi continues, “On an annual bases tracking not only the efforts of our partners; things such as door replacements, window replacement and new healthy Homes. We are hoping by through work with local government, have better early warning systems to about homes that have lead risks, through the housing inspection system. Ultimately at the end of the day the metric we are seeing is less children poisoned. That’s what initially got us alerted to this. We don’t want to use children as an indicator, because by then it’s too late. But at the end of the day, that’s the outcome we’d like to see.”

This is not going to be a quick solution we’ll see notable improvement in 10 years.

“Click” to enlarge image.

We aren’t the only community with lead issues states Ridzi, “This has caught the attention of our elected officials. Sen. Schumer has come to town about this issue Rep. Katko has been very vocal on this issue. Recently he has been pointing to the importance nationally. Katko has pointed out that the Center for disease control should improve the quality of their infrastructure that children are tested for lead. Sen. Schumer has helped obtain HUD funds. Our local monies have leveraged external federal funds.”

Central New York Community Foundation has brought attention to this issue as a community. The organization accomplished this level of success by collaborating with others.  Ridzi is quick to add, “We’ve had great leadership with Joe Driscoll and Helen Hudson at the city level. So, we really have everybody on board; Onondaga County Health Department, Dr. Gupta and Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon.”

The following are examples of what’s been accomplished through LeadSafe. Housing Construction, Renovations & Repairs; Hundreds of windows and doors replaced.  Impacting over 100 safe and affordable rental units. Provided Education & Awareness, Workforce Development & Landlord education, Individuals Trained on Proper Lead Paint Removal, Public Policy & Legislation, in addition to Health, Safety and Other aspects of controlling the exposure to lead paint by children.

Strategy 1: Housing Construction, Renovations & Repairs
Amount Invested to Date: $793,750
The likelihood of lead paint exposure increases in rental properties and two family homes that haven’t been updated and/or routinely maintained, putting families living in these homes at risk. We are collaborating with organizations to provide home renovations and/or new construction in the census tracts that have the highest level of lead poisoning.
Outcomes to Date:

  • 736 Windows Replaced
  • 101 Doors Replaced
  • 112  Safe and Affordable Rental Units Constructed or Renovated

Strategy 2: Education & Awareness
Amount Invested to Date: $88,473

Lead poisoning can go undetected and symptoms of elevated blood lead levels can mimic other less serious concerns, resulting in continued exposure and increase of health related issues. This is why we are partnering with organizations to get the word out about how to protect CNY residents from the dangers of lead paint exposure.
Outcomes to Date:

  • Thousands of Residents Informed on Lead Poisoning

Strategy 3: Workforce Development & Landlord education
Amount Invested to Date: $127,050

It is imperative that the workforce and property owners are educated and knowledgeable in all aspects of the presence and appropriate removal of lead paint. In order to deliver the necessary tools to the CNY workforce, we are giving resources to organizations that provide training and materials to these professionals.
Outcomes to Date:

  • 135 Individuals Trained on Proper Lead Paint Removal

Strategy 4: Public Policy & Legislation
Amount Invested to Date: $50,000

We are advocating for effective lead violation and housing code enforcement; conducting research that supports meaningful legislation.
Outcomes to Date:

  • Member of statewide aligned fund to create Lead Free NY Campaign
  • Developed policy paper

Advocated for the passage of a new lead ordinance, which would make the presence of lead a housing code violation

Strategy 5: Health, Safety and Other
Amount Invested to date: $118,125

We are assisting local agencies in helping residents get tested and in  safe homes.

$500,000 Loan Loss Reserve
Will help Home HeadQuarters provide first mortgages to buyers of new, lead-free homes in the City of Syracuse.