Rock the Lead Out: A Lead Safe Housing Fundraiser for CLASH

Wed 6/26 @ 7PM

Lead poisoning touches on some of Cleveland’s classic problems — deteriorated housing, persistent poverty, insufficient health care and underfunded education. Though Flint has brought the wide-reaching impacts of lead poisoning to the forefront of the media, cities like Cleveland are facing the exact same problem. In the paint, the soil and the water pipes, this poisonous metal finds its way into the historic homes of Cleveland at rates much higher than its suburban neighbors.

The Ohio Student Association will throw a fundraiser on Wed 6/26 to support the Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing as they address this problem once and for all. The fundraiser brings local bands and artists to Mahall’s in Lakewood, all with a shared vision of a safer and healthier Cleveland.

Performances from Evan Bloom, Taylor Lamborn, Bonnie Clydeman and the Alyssa Boyd Quartet will take place in the Mahall’s main stage room. The local music groups will play original pieces as well as some Clash cover songs in honor of the organization’s namesake. An art show, mini-massages, tarot card readings, live painters and face painters, and more will pack the room with more fun! The $5 admission and small donations for the other activities will help us put an end to lead poisoning in Cleveland. Doors for the event open at 7pm and music will begin at 8pm.

We have been talking about to a solution to this problem for decades, and after easy-outs and failed initiatives it is time to think critically and strategically about how to stop the persistent poisoning of Cleveland youth. When the City of Cleveland launched its voluntary lead assessment program in 2018, it was unsurprising that few properties were flagged with lead violations — only landlords who were confident in their property’s ability to pass the inspection submitted to them. The low rate of 5% made it clear that this method of asking landlords, rather than requiring them, to inspect their homes would yield few results.

Now, the Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing, or CLASH, are giving the City of Cleveland a choice. Through intense grassroots organizing, the group intends to collect 10,000 signatures to ensure their ballot initiative will be up for vote in March of 2020. This route of mandatory inspections implements reforms that protect tenants, creates a city-controlled fund that will assist landlords in renovations, helps to educate individuals on the dangers of lead, and more. Read the full ballot initiative here.

Sure, it won’t be free. Yes, it will be inconvenient to landlords. But the problem of lead poisoning will not go away on its own. In place of their current methods of damage control, waiting until kids are facing the challenges lead poisoning, the city must put costs and work towards preventative measures.

Even with a strong team of volunteer canvassers and organizers working around the clock without pay, these grassroots, community-based issues come at a cost. After their first round of signature collection, Cleveland City Council dismissed the 10,000 names on a technicality. CLASH must now print hundreds more petition booklets, continue to pay their full-time canvassers, and also bring on an experienced lawyer to review the legislation and ensure the council will have no reason to invalidate it a second time.

Four children a day in Cleveland are diagnosed with lead poisoning. Between the time this article is published and the day of the concert, that’s 40 kids. If you cannot make it and would still like to make a contribution, visit here.

[Written by Jenna Thomas]

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