NCHH's David Jacobs Discusses HUD's Lead Remediation in Cleveland


Dr. David Jacobs, NCHH's Chief Scientist and former head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, recently commented on HUD's apparent unwillingness to share the complete addresses of Cleveland-area homes that it had remediated with taxpayer money. While HUD did publish the street names that were targeted, as well as the dates on which work was performed, they did not release the actual street numbers. Cleveland's Plain Dealer newspaper requested the information six months ago; HUD's reply was that the newspaper's request was still in the queue.

The article, "HUD encourages 'Lead Safe' Registries but Won't Release Addresses of homes Fixed with Taxpayer Money," which appeared today on, summarized Dr. Jacobs' thoughts about why HUD had said one thing but appeared to do another. "[Dr. Jacobs said that] HUD is likely being cautious because it rightly doesn't want to inadvertently identify a child who was lead poisoned by releasing an address."

He explained that while the registries of "lead safe" homes sounds attractive, the issue's complexity obscures  there are better ways to help families keep their children safe. Furthermore, laws are already in place that require property owners to disclose information about potential or identified lead problems; enforcement of such laws helps to keep children safe. More enforcement might be necessary, however.

Dr. Jacobs also noted that a provision dropped from a set of federal housing laws passed in 1992 was worth revisiting. The provision would have requiring lead hazard inspections as part of the home-sale process.

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