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'This is a silent crisis in our city': Toledo leaders call on landlords, property owners to test units for lead paint

City leaders are putting out a call for action to landlords and property owners as the deadline for Toledo's lead-safe paint program is fast approaching.

TOLEDO, Ohio — If you own a home in Toledo, time is running out to have it tested for lead.

"We're serious about this. This is a silent crisis in our city," Director of Housing and Community Development Rosalyn Clemens said of lead poisoning, especially in little ones. 

"It is irreversible. The damage is irreversible," Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. "There are cognitive delays that you can experience, physical ailments that can accrue."

It's something the city has been working to prevent in older Toledo homes for more than a year now after introducing the lead-safe paint program.

Landlords who own between one and four units built before 1978 need to get their properties tested for lead paint.

Clemens said Toledo currently has more than 6,000 properties that fall under that category. Since the ordinance went into place last year, only about 600 landlords have fixed the issue. 

Officials are urging residents to think about the future. 

"We have our future at stake here and those are our children," Juanita Greene, with Toledo Community Coalition, said.

"Those issues that we have with those children as they become older adults, and those health issues related to that, we don't have that in our community," Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski said. "That's where we need to be."

If landlords don't remove lead paint in their properties by June 30, they could be fined up to $10,000. 

City leaders say there's been more than enough time. 

"We will be recruiting and hiring a lead enforcement specialist that will be joining our code enforcement team to help with this enforcement," Clemens said.

"This is not about punishing landlords," Kapszukiewicz said. this is about making sure that our community is safe and that our kids are safe."

There are grants available through the city if landlords need help financially. 

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