Stabilize‎ > ‎Healthy Homes‎ > ‎

Mold v. Lead

 Mold v. Lead: Framing the issues for governmental action.

    Here's the comment that came into RHINO instant feedback. "The state needs to stop paying all of their attention to lead poisoning and realize there are other health issues,  such as: asthma, immune disorders,  psychiatric issues, multiple health issues from all the different strains of candida, aspergilliosis, deviated and or septal perforation and lung and brain hemorrhage, the list goes on and on, being caused by greedy, uncaring slum lords, that knowingly expose innocent people to toxic mold."

    OK anonymous RHINO member, but it's not that simple. The state in not paying attention to lead at the expense of attention to mold. Ohio is just following the money. Right now, practically no state funds go into lead poisoning. Every penny Ohio spends on lead poisoning comes from the Federal Government...and President Trump is determined to eliminate most of those funding sources. (We'll see what Congress has to say later this year.)

    Because there's no Federal dollars for addressing mold, Ohio (and most states) don't do much about it. Here's what ODH says about mold. "Allergic reactions can include:  asthma attacks, chronic sinusitis and various other lung problems. Children, the elderly and people with immune system problems are particularly at risk." In other words, it's not a public health problem, it's a housing or medical problem. "Someone Else's Problem" is a way to make an issue disappear.

    In New York City, the Coalition for Asthma-Free Housing is supporting a law that would address "asthma triggers" in housing. Unlike mold, asthma is a recognized diagnosis. The coalition reports that "...while around 1 in 11 children in the United States have asthma, in some low-income areas of New York City, the figure is much higher: 1 in 4. New York City Health Department data also shows that asthma is the leading cause of school absences in city schools and the most common reason for city hospitalizations."
    By changing the issue from "mold" to "asthma," the coalition gains the support of the public health department and the schools. This is called "framing the issue" and is part of the organizers' toolbox. This is a big part of the work around Lead Safe Housing. Advocates need to convince the State legislature and local city councils that waiting for children to be poisoned is a bad idea and making homes "lead safe" before they are rented is the real solution to lead poisoning.

    See, government doesn't get involved in housing issues because elected officials think it's a good idea. Government acts because advocates "make the case" with heart rending examples, solid data and a "simple" solution. According to the CityLab article cited above: "The Coalition for Asthma-Free Housing worked with City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez to submit a bill dubbed the Asthma-Free Housing Act, which would compel landlords to take care of an issue like Bravo’s thoroughly and quickly. The bill was introduced three years ago, and support for it has grown over time: Currently 48 out of 51 council members support it. A City Council hearing last week focused on the act, which now awaits a vote."