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Housing authority’s rehab plan chases after private gold

ANALYSIS: Has Baltimore found a "magic bullet" to repair its badly deteriorated public housing? Or is it racing into a financial and construction quagmire?

high-rise murphy under construction

High-rise Murphy Homes in West Baltimore shown under construction in 1963.

Photo by: Housing Authority of Baltimore City

Is it all just too good to be true?

By partnering with private developers, Baltimore hopes to unleash over $300 million in private investment to rehab nearly half of its aging public housing stock in a matter of “two years plus,” housing commissioner Paul T. Graziano said on the radio today.

Along the way, it expects to pocket some sizable developers’ fees and earn about $147 million (according to a city document reviewed by The Brew) by selling off buildings that now are plagued with leaking windows, faulty plumbing, obsolete electrical wiring and elevators that don’t elevate.

No, it’s not a fantasy, says Graziano, who doubles as executive director of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC), but a unique opportunity afforded by the Rental Assistance Demonstration program started by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Baltimore Jumps In

No other East Coast city has  plunged into the RAD pilot project so enthusiastically as Baltimore.

The city has won preliminary HUD approval to convert 4,583 units – that’s 43% of its total public housing stock – from public ownership to a Section 8 housing subsidy that, combined with generous federal tax credits, would allow developers to rehab the buildings and own them for up to 40 years.

Without RAD, Graziano said on WEAA’s Marc Steiner Show today, some public housing projects “are going to be uninhabitable [in] eight to 10 years from now, if not sooner.”

HUD records show that major cities – including Washington, Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis, Detroit, Newark and Boston – have opted not to be part of the first round of RAD conversions, while other cities are taking a very cautious approach.

The Houston Housing Authority, for example, seeks to convert only 89 units, while Richmond, Va., has applied for 317 units – or 7% of the number proposed by Baltimore.

(The exceptions are Chicago, El Paso, Nashville and Birmingham, who are proposing to convert 10,935, 6,100, 5,384 and 5,015 units to RAD, respectively. More typical of cities applying for RAD conversions are Bellingham, Wash., Albany, Ga., and Opelika, Ala.)

Media Rebuffed

Until The Brew broke news of the plan 12 days ago, the program was kept effectively out of the media spotlight by Graziano and his staff. They refused to discuss the project with reporters, saying they would make a future announcement when all the details were ironed out.

As The Brew reported in its initial story, residents at the affected locations and employees’ representatives had been told about the upcoming sell-off. And some City Council members say they were briefed on RAD last fall, although those recently interviewed had only a sketchy idea of how the program would work.
___________________________________________________
COVERAGE SO FAR:

City selling Baltimore’s high-rise public housing to private entities (2/27/14)

Graziano defends housing privatization in a surprise call to radio station (3/5/14)

Housing authority workers threatened with layoffs (3/6/14)

Housing advocates seek details about plan to privatize public housing (3/7/14)
__________________________________________________

But housing officials so far have not answered a long list of questions about RAD sent by housing advocates in January and declined to answer questions emailed by The Brew weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the developers selected by HABC have been advised by Graziano’s staff not to speak to the media, The Brew has learned. Councilman Bill Henry, chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee, has called for a public informational hearing next week. this Wednesday, March 12, at 5 p.m. in the Council chambers.

It will be televised on Channel 25.

Speaking before tonight’s Council meeting, Henry said the hearing was being moved up because “we are inspired by all of the interest generated by the issue” and “because a lot of questions need to be answered right away.”

More Unanswered Questions

While much of the worry expressed so far centers on whether low-income residents will be displaced from public housing by the program, several other key questions have been largely overlooked.

• Is the Housing Authority of Baltimore City – long criticized for its sluggish management and foot-dragging on such things as lead paint abatement – capable of administering such a large-scale, complex and unproven program?

• Are the developers qualified by HABC financially able to raise the funds and to carry out a top-to-bottom rebuilding of large deteriorated buildings on such an aggressive timetable as the “two years plus” promised by Graziano?

Here are some of the relevant facts, culled from interviewed and public documents.

The city is proposing to sell 11 public housing projects to developers in the first round of RAD, with an additional 11 in the second round.

(SEE BELOW for the exact projects.)

HABC issued a Request for Proposals that lays out guidelines for how the program might work. The RFP differs from the recent approval given by HUD, in that only 16 (not 22) housing projects are designated for conversion.

Minimum 20% Developer’s Fee 

The RFP says that developers applying for the program will be partly ranked on the generousness of the fee they paid upfront to the city.

“A minimum of 20% of the developer’s fee must be paid to HABC,” the document states, adding: “HABC acknowledges that committing to a specific fee-sharing arrangement at such an early stage of the development process is not ideal; however, such a commitment can be made and the timing and nature of the RAD program require this information in order for HABC to make appropriate selections under this RFP.”

The developer with the highest fee split with HABC will receive 40 points, and another 60 points will be given to the developer with the highest “quality” score, as ranked by HABC.

The developer with the highest overall score will be offered its first choice of the projects, the second-ranked developer offered its first choice of the remaining projects, and so on.

Cash Flow Varies

The process essentially means that – in return for high fee payments – developers get to cherry-pick the most financially promising projects. And the buildings will throw off highly variable cash, according to an HABC analysis reviewed by The Brew.

For example, Lakeview Tower in Reservoir Hill is earmarked for having a “potential surplus annual cash” of $229,407, while Wyman House in Charles Village would throw off just $87,604 yearly.

Other examples: $200,851 for J. Van Story Branch, $209,699 for Rosemont Tower, and $95,997 for Ellerslie Apartments.

This money does not include the low-income tax credits that private investors would receive by putting equity into the projects. The major tax credit is known as the “4% credit” that allows investors to offset approximately 4% of their taxable income each year for 10 years.

Late last week, the housing authority released the names of 11 developers who have been qualified to buy and rehab the 22 projects slated for RAD, but has not publicly matched the developer to the project.

The HABC has given estimates of how much the housing units might sell for and how much it might cost for their reconstruction and maintenance over a 15-year period.

Using an “income approach for acquisition,” the 16 projects could be sold for $146.8 million, HABC estimates, and the developers would put in a total of $416 million in construction, maintenance and “soft costs” over 15 years.

Even with these large expenses, the city estimated that the developers will earn a yearly cash flow, which could be augmented by other tax credits – and from paying little or no property taxes to Baltimore City.

“Very Simple Assumptions” 

What these figures lack is a sense that they are grounded in reality.

HABC, for example, has modeled its analysis of the potential earnings of privatized public housing on “very simply assumptions” – that’s its own words in the RFP. One assumption is that reserves, utility costs, taxes, management and maintenance costs will amount to exactly $6,500 a year per unit following its rehabilitation.

If, however, this $6,500 figure proves to be too low – if, for example, water or heating fees rise steeply in future years – the private owner could face severe financial strains, even bankruptcy.

And if construction costs are higher than anticipated, what’s to stop a development group from abandoning the project, leaving the city with a partly-rehabbed building now in need of a large infusion of public money?

Has HABC – or better yet, an independent agency – done a risk assessment? After all, this is a pilot program with unknown risks as well as unintended consequences.

What’s more, under HABC’s plan to renovate over 40% of its housing stock in a two-year period, how many residents would potentially be displaced from their units during construction?

(Different HABC officials have told residents that they could stay in the building during renovations, and that they may be put in motel rooms or other facilities during reconstruction.)

During the confusion of reconstruction, could vulnerable residents – such as seniors and the mentally or physically impaired – slip between the cracks and wind up homeless?

These are questions that Commissioner Graziano – not to speak of the mayor – should address to make the plan transparent to HABC residents and as thoroughly thought-out as such a radical step in public policy deserves.

To reach the writer: reuttermark@yahoo.com
____________________________________________

List of Public Housing Projects given Preliminary Approval by HUD for RAD Privatization:

Phase 1

• Allendale, 3600 West Franklin, 164-unit high rise
• Bel Park Towers, 3800 West Belvedere, 253-unit high rise
• Bernard E. Mason, 2121 Windsor Gardens, 223-unit mid rise
• Brentwood, 410 East 25th Street, 149-unit high rise
• Hollins House, 1010 West Baltimore, 130-unit high rise
• Lakeview Tower, 717 Druid Park Lake Dr, 301-unit high rise
• McCulloh Homes Extension, 501 Dolphin, 349-unit high rise
• Pleasant View Gardens, 311-unit townhouses
• Primrose Place, 820 South Caton, 125-unit high rise
• Somerset Court Extension, 60-unit low rise
• Wyman House, 123 West 29th, 168-unit high rise

Phase 2 (approval sought from HUD after Congress lifts cap on RAD program)

• Arbor Oaks, 811 Dartmouth, 62 townhouses
• Chase House, 1027 Cathedral, 189-unit high rise
• Ellerslie Apts., 601 Wyonoke, 117 townhouses
• Govans Manor, 5220 York, 199-unit high rise
• Heritage Crossing, 600 Brune, 75 townhouses
• J. Van Story Branch, 11 West 20th, 357-unit high rise
• Monument East, 633 Aisquith, 170-unit high rise
• Rosemont Tower, 740 Poplar Grove, 203-unit high rise
• The Townes at the Terrace, 202 North Fremont, 203 townhouses
• The Terrace, 202 North Fremont, 47-unit mid-rise
• scattered units

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  • http://housingpolicywatch.com/ Carol Ott

    Interesting to see that at least one of these projects isn’t even 20 years old yet. I wonder which developers will be picked to redo these, and what the vetting process will look like — hopefully better than the ones currently in place for other City housing programs.

    • ushanellore

      The vetting process will look like no bid contracts and quid pro quo.

      • http://housingpolicywatch.com/ Carol Ott

        Oh that’s true. Yeah, sorry, sometimes I forget where i am.

  • Lawrence MedgarEvers DuBois

    Thank you Baltimore Brew for this incredible reporting! I think your readers benefit from a little context. When you read the book “New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice, and Public Housing Policy” by Edward Goetz, you understand that public housing is being dismantled nationwide as a part of the neoliberal agenda to privatize public goods, displace people, and destroy the social safety net.

    You also learn that many local public housing authorities did not perform the proper management of facilities and engaged in serious financial misconduct, allowing facilities to fall apart, and effectively engaging in what Goetz calls “defacto demolition.” There never was any rehab of many building which is why several were demolished and HABC is slumming for private cash.

    As the link to the article by the Baltimore Sun illustrates (http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-02-05/news/1993036181_1_development-block-home-program-baltimore-housing), at one point the local housing authority was sitting on $52 million and did not spend the money allocated to anti-poverty programs. While the Sun article is not centered on public housing, it illustrates the level of mismanagement going on at the federal and city level as it relates to housing overall.

    Thus, when you combine Goetz with the above Sun article, what we have is this: HUD undermining its own mandate, HABC sleep at the wheel, and a local media that misses these stories until something drastic happens to let everyone see what’s going on beneath the hood. Except of course for the Baltimore Brew and writers like Melody Simmons and Joan Jacobson who have been ahead of the curve. But worst of all, we have a general public that doesn’t hold government accountable.

    So when you see people snidely demeaning those on “public assistance,” as the people who somehow deserve Baltimore’s attempt to dismantle public housing, remember this. Corporate developers in Baltimore receive all kinds of public assistance (TIFs and PILOTs). When neighborhoods go through gentrification, the incoming population is also receiving all kinds of public assistance (eminent domain and forced relocation). The Hopkins employees who send their children to Henderson-Hopkins elementary will be receiving all kinds of public assistance (the city helped displace residents who lived at the new school’s site). In other words, we should really be concerned about the ethical behavior and morals of EVERYONE receiving public assistance, especially the wealthy, the gentrifiers, and the middle-class.

    • ushanellore

      Beautifully put. But, I would argue the middle class pays dearly for any public assistance it receives, through the taxes it remits. The middle class is the most fleeced of all. I would say it has been sheared of all its wool and left to shiver in the brutal cold.

      The onslaught of privatization is a ploy on the part of the political class to enrich the global grand viziers. To privatize public housing all you need to do is neglect the houses under your management and purloin the moneys given to you for the upkeep of these homes. Then, as expected, when the apts fall apart, blame the poor for being irrevocably committed to a filthy way of life, turn over the crumbling buildings to your dearest and nearest developer friends or to your campaign contributors, if you are a politician, and bail out.

      Vouchers on a platter are the inept thieves’ way of making sure out of sight is out of mind. “We are not ordinary thieves!” they seem to be saying, “We want to make sure you have some place to go–a better place if you choose will be yours to make your own!” All around it’s a win–win for the thieves.

      The quaint term private public partnership really stands for a galley of thugs and thieves in collaboration to see who can best the middle class and the poor in a game of musical chairs. Somehow the rich man will always be the one outlasting all the others in the game. That aside, there are folks on other threads who think privatization and vouchers are a way up and out for the poor. With vouchers they can rent anywhere they want and be happy and healthy for the rest of their lives. This dreamy concept that once out of dystopia the poor will be in nirvana is encouraged by the hawks who misspent moneys meant for public housing or they misappropriated the same.

      • http://housingpolicywatch.com/ Carol Ott

        It’s kind of ironic that the City is selling off its public housing to the highest bidder, and many private property owners are deliberately allowing their properties to rot (much in the same way the City allowed public housing to rot) in the hopes that the City will then turn around and take the property from them…and then flip it to the next guy who can let it rot.

        How about we create some decent — and affordable — rental housing for the folks who actually make up the bulk of the city tax base, keeping them from sliding into poverty in the first place?

        • ushanellore

          Right on!

    • asteroid_B612

      I’m not really sure how warehousing the poor in segregated housing “projects” in Baltimore City is good public policy. The whole scheme to do this has already been found to be a product of racial animus ( http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2012/HUDNo.12-174 ) though the remedy ordered was half-baked and designed to preserve the status quo.

      The Housing Authority of Baltimore City (as well as most other urban public housing bureaucracies) have proven themselves to be incompetent in managing large-scale “projects”. HABC has also been woefully incompetent in managing its scattered site housing as well (which resulted in hundreds of lead paint poisoned children) and about half of their scattered site rowhomes are now vacant.

      Baltimore’s system of public housing was founded on segregationist principles and flawed mid-20th century sociology. While I would be the last to defend the proposed privatization “scheme”, it’s equally disingenuous to think the status quo is acceptable, either.

      • Lawrence MedgarEvers DuBois

        Hey thatguy, sorry for the late reply. I agree with you. Actually, I think that my thinking on this has sharpened in the days since I wrote this post. It is not just the neoliberal agenda that fails black folk living in disinvested neighborhoods, its government policies and actions that warehoused them there to begin with.

        If you read my comments on the Brew article about public housing residents with cars having better access to jobs than those that don’t have cars, then you’d see just how much I think government has played a role via those very segregationist principles and flawed sociology you mention.

        I applaud you for seeing that the problem is beyond public v. private, the problem is public AND private! And that is why if we are going to get out of the matrix, we are going to have to challenge both sectors and transform both of them to produce the restorative justice that is needed to repair communities based on both sectors’ destructive practices.

  • charmed

    Surprise, surprise!

    In 2006, I wrote a book, “Residential Real Estate…” and in Chapter Five I briefly describe the 1980 legislation (DIDMCA & AMTPA) that laid the foundation for what we are witnessing today.

    You are in denial. I think you know the endgame.

  • KnowNothingParty

    Is there a list I can get on to allow a displaced public housing resident to share my home, while their apartment is rebuilt. Updated at no cost to them after they destroyed the building they have lived in virtually free for years.

    • ushanellore

      knownothing you seem not to know
      or you don’t want to know
      a problem has many causes–
      and no simple answers–
      it’s not always just the poor
      turning their four star hotels to hovels,
      not always just the poor–
      lying disemboweled on the stairs
      leading to their homes–
      in the projects
      it’s not always just the poor in charge–
      there are rude intruders–
      the slum lords come and go–
      hardly ever repairing what’s cracking,
      the drug pushers haunt the hallways
      with guns preparing to shoot
      those who would go reporting–
      their distributing–is done–
      in broad daylight and those who are buying
      are not always just the poor
      and no one is lifting the telephones
      in the housing authority of Baltimore–
      no one is stampeding to help the folks–
      assaulted by prostitution and thieving–
      in the projects– the ones pimping
      are not always just the poor–
      therefore complaints are ignored–
      it’s not always just the poor inviting
      the bed bugs and the roaches
      that seem to have thrived for eons
      even in palaces and castles–
      not always just the poor
      dirty and bedraggled,
      lazy and ragged,
      those vices like viruses
      cross all barriers–
      not only is it not
      always just the poor–
      not always ALL the poor either–
      SOME may be but not ALL–
      and with the middle class tumbling
      into abysses excavated
      by the rich by whom
      they have been baited–
      it will not be always just the poor–
      so your broad brush painting
      and stereotyping about
      how it’s a waste
      to house the unappreciative
      wretches and wastrels–
      (not your words–mine–
      but yours by implication)
      I reply, “Not always just the poor,
      not all of them either.”

      Usha Nellore

  • Matthew Riesner

    What do you exect after the HABC was sued for tens of millions of dollars for lead poisonings a few years ago? Remember, it got so bad that the HABC startexdto get thier equipment seized. The only people who really won this were the lawyers. These homes are provided for free and for almost no money…so should we the taxpayer be on the hook for this? I think folks would fare much worse living under the JFX than in a free/next to free apartment with lead paint. If you think about it from the side of protecting the taxpayer from liability, it makes perfect sense.

    • thatguysonheroin

      You’re making the case that people placed in housing which caused lead poisoning… something which causes mental retardation… should not be liable for damages because they receive the housing for free? Seriously?!?

      Does that mean I can hand out poisoned candy at Halloween and be absolved of all liability because the kids didn’t purchase the product? Don’t be a moron.

      • Matthew Riesner

        Yes…that’s exactly what I am saying. Public housing is not supposed to be nice and should be something people don’t resort to for long. If you are paying rent, I feel you have a case but to be awarded the kind of money that is bankrupting the housing program and not paying anything then don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

        • ushanellore

          By the way Matthew public housing is not rent free–the poor residents pay partial rent and the govt. subsidizes the rest in a whole lot of cities. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth does not hold for lead poisoning. Even if you are not paying rent you can’t sit by and watch your children being poisoned and you do have a right to claim compensation because such children are very hard to care for and they require continuous medical care. We have been increasing the criminal class in Baltimore and one of the reasons is rampant lead poisoning. Lead mitigation is vital. There is a postulate that lead poisoning is one of the many causes for the fall of the mighty Roman Empire.

          • Matthew Riesner

            Maybe the parents should have kept their kids from eating the paint. The residents could have painted over the flaking areas themselves or not have done things to loosen the paint such as keeping the windows closed during rainy days so that the paint does not come loose. As a homeowner, if I have flaking paint, I scrape, vacuum up, and paint over the affected areas. If someone is paying nothing or next to nothing, maybe people should have taken care of these things themselves the same way I would. Maybe these kids should sue their parents for putting them in this situation…oh wait, the parents have nothing to sue for. I can see the same thing happening again, this time with mold instead of lead paint. So now us the taxpayer has to pay twice, once for housing and again for litigation…If that is the case…let them freeze on the street.

          • Tom Webb

            Public schooling is also free of charge….would you also argue that if lead paint is found in a classroom parents would have no recourse other than move their kids to private school?

        • thatguysonheroin

          So that justifies poisoning their children?! Wow… I’m so rarely the voice of moral reason I don’t know where to start…

          You obviously don’t have kids. If you did you wouldn’t be arguing the validity of poisoning children because of monetary reason.

          But, if you want to make the monetary case, it’s actually WAY more prudent to take care of the issue in the housing than the medically treat the byproducts of this housing down the road. The most conservative estimate is a savings of $16 per dollar invested.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2717145/

          On a side note, I want to meet you some day and find out what made you so mad at life that you value your tax dollars more than lives and well-being of your countrymen? Is that what it means to be American these days?

          • Matthew Riesner

            I do have children and I, myself, has to do things to protect them. I own a 110 year old house and if there are dangers due to the age of my hom,e I must remedy the problem, the best I can, myself and train my children not to full around with things that will hurt them. There is no magic hand to remove lead or pay them out if they were to get hurt. I have to make sure to repaint when the paint fails and teach my kids the paint chips are not food. It’s terrible that the kids were hurt this way, but simply paying them out, millions of dollars, when their family couldn’t afford to live elsewhere, is where I take issue. Do you think the money is really going to afford them a better life, one free of despondecy?…probably not. I believe that paying these folks out has bankrupted the program and reduced it’s capability to provide decent, affordable housing. I believe the money would have been better spent modernizing old and building new units, rather than going to lawsuites. The only real winners in the lawsuites are the lawyers after they take their 33% cut.

          • Diogenes

            Lead dust and not chips are the main causal. I recommend you study the causes and costs before talking about this any further.

        • http://housingpolicywatch.com/ Carol Ott

          Actually, when public housing was first created and most of the intended tenants were out of work white people…ahem…it WAS nice.

          Don’t believe me? Go watch “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” on Netflix. Lots of archival footage from the time when most cities started building public housing projects like Pruit-Igoe Homes in St. Louis.

          They were intended to be nice, but…there was never a budget created for long-term maintenance. It was basically a “get ’em in and let ’em rot” plan, which…by its very nature, is a shitty failure of a plan. HUD, state, and local governments all share in the burden of how and why our housing policy has failed its most vulnerable citizens and only made the corrupt among us rich.

          • traderjim7

            Have you defaced anyone’s property lately? You should be in jail for a long time for vandalism. You probably never worked for anything so you wouldn’t know what it is like for someone to vandalize your property.

        • traderjim7

          You say: “Public housing is not supposed to be nice and should be something people don’t resort to for long.”. You are badly mistaken. Section 8 housing for disabled people, either in some of the complexes listed or through private landlords, is meant to last them for the rest of their lives.

    • ushanellore

      Matthew, normally I agree with you but lead paint leads to plumbism and criminal behavior–to violence and intellectual stunting. Huge swaths of Baltimore’s children were deliberately exposed. If a rich man’s kids had suffered similar exposures the city would have been in for bankruptcy. This was a worthy fight and the housing authority could not and should not be let off the hook for an egregious and callous victimization of Baltimore’s children. The kids would have been better off under the JFX not with lead dust in their kidneys, lungs and brains or the JFX would be no better, no worse.

      • KnowNothingParty

        Our grandparents were surrounded by lead paint – that was all they had back in the good ole days, and they weren’t violent thugs. How about a little verse to explain why lead paint didn’t make people of yesteryear criminals.

        • ushanellore

          There were criminals in those days too KnowNothing–
          you just think there weren’t that many,
          mostly they were worse than the BCPD,
          zeroes at record keeping,
          your grand folks probably do not exemplify
          the entire population of their time–
          undoubtedly lead leads to crime
          and even if you want to chime
          your usual generalities– you’re not right
          about lead your case is not airtight–
          I’ll tell you why–
          you don’t talk science–
          you talk folklore,
          you don’t talk statistics–
          you just know it’s true
          because your “common sense” tells you so–
          and your “common sense” is more powerful proof
          about lead as poison–
          than all the research in the world–to you–
          the docs who studied plumbism
          inside out–are just a bunch of quacks
          who made it up–the kidney failure–
          the brain damage–
          the nerve damage–
          nothing more than crap–
          a lot of useless pap–why?
          because how could it be true
          that lead induces criminality–
          when our ancestors who ate lead for breakfast
          had a tranquil mentality?
          How could it be true when–
          people didn’t kill each other in the old days–
          O no! They only kissed each other–
          and tolerance was their middle name–
          (that’s why they had slaves–
          that’s why they fell brother on brother
          in a civil war that echoes still
          across this land)
          how could it be true
          when Knownothing–you see it clearly–
          through the fog that is the past–
          straight to the very heart
          of the problem–that lead must be benign–
          mellowing like red wine–
          because your granddaddy he dined
          on lead pellets at sunrise
          and nothing ever happened to him except
          an eructation!
          Good night Knownothing, sleep tight and keep on believing lead can’t be bad for you because it wasn’t bad for the geese and ganders of yesteryear.
          Usha Nellore

  • Matthew Riesner

    Just about all the people in public housing are already receiving free, in-kind medical care through medicaid. Lead dust is rare and generally only an issue when people either have poor cleaning habits (not vacuuming or sweeping floors /wiping away dust off surfaces regularly) or when there is construction. I agree that there are many other factors at play but this factor is a large reason, I don’t blame the HABC for unloading these units on the private sector.

    • Diogenes

      Unless you have a true HEPA vacuum cleaner vacuuming worsens the lead issue. Again please study this issue before you further comment.

  • ushanellore

    A lot of assumptions here about the poor–a lot of stereotyping and generalities. There are several poor mothers who do well by their children and their children deserve a home free of lead and other toxins. Yes, there are several who don’t do well by their children too but it is the same with the middle class and the rich.

    • Matthew Riesner

      The middle class and rich, while they may be bad parents, they can afford decent housing for their children. Most older homes, unless completely gutted are not free of lead (including homes where the middle class and rich live…I bet 3/4 of homes in Roland Park, Homeland, and 10 Hills have lead paint). The cost of abatement is so high that most middle class and wealthier people choose to encapsulate by using paint, wall paper, skim coating with drywall mud, etc. If their kids get messed up, there is no one to sue. Thier homes are not free of lead, so I don’t understand why their taxes need to pay to make someone else’s home free of lead.

      As far a public housing goes, the adults generally have a range of problems, drug addiction, abuse issues, mental illness, bad attitudes, etc. that has led to poverty and a complete undervaluing of self and acceptance of despondency. The parents, due to these issues are not watching their children and teaching them what they should and should not do. All you need to do is to take a trip to Latrobe Homes or Cherry Hill at night to see how many children under age 10 are uncared for and unwatched. When the children are unwatched, that is when they start being destructive, which is when paint gets peeled off the wall.

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