Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lead Safe....?

Lead Safe...? recently ballyhooed the fledgling efforts of the mayor's Lead Safe St Louis initiative.

Numbers reported by LSSL at their CityView meeting (or "CitiView" according to

In FY05, "City crews and contractors made 208 contaminated housing units lead safe."

That's good, albeit a tiny drop in the bucket of what's needed. Is that really any more total than what was already being done between the Building Division, the Health Department, and CDA? I don't know.

Here's the fun part:

"Overall, nearly 5,000 housing units have been designated lead safe since we started our initiative."

I think, but cannot prove, that the bulk of those are the (crap) built in the City since lead paint was banned by Federal law in 1978.

You could, arguably, add the (mostly crappy) stuff built in the City since interior use of lead paint was banned in Missouri in 1952; but they're being a lot more cautious than that.

It's true - the newer subsidized rental developments like O'Fallon Place (c. 1983), Murphy Park (c. 1996) and the newer market-rate for sale developments like Kingsbury Square (c. 1980, 1987 and 1997), Kings Heights (c. 1984), Park Hampton Estates (c. 1990) and St. Ambrose Place (c. 1994) - are all considered lead-safe.

But, they sure ain't historic - they are, instead, vinyl-clad frame structures very similar to that found all across suburbia.

For that matter, while most of the new-ish rental housing is affordable, most of the new-ish for sale housing is not. So, that means if you want to buy a house and don't have a whole lot of money, you'll probably be in something not deemed "lead-safe" (Habitat houses being a major exception).

The City of St. Louis has, mostly, very old brick-built housing stock. A lot of it is still pretty affordable to buy. We should cherish it and preserve it to the extent possible. And part of that task is making it healthy to live in.

And being accurate about the degree of progress we are making in doing so.

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