Lead-Safe Housing

Paint is the number one source of lead poisoning in San Diego and eliminating this hazard is the best way to protect children′s health.  EHC partners with the San Diego Housing Commission′s “Home Safe Home” program to identify homes built before 1979 that are eligible for lead paint remediation.

Since EHC’s initial pilot project in 2002, this program has grown to be one of the nation’s most recognized as a Model Program in lead hazard control by the Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control comprehensive programs, and has received over $20 million in federal funding.

If you live in San Diego and think you may have lead paint in your home, call our community organizer at (619) 474-0220 ext. 141 to see if your home qualifies for lead paint remediation.

A list of housing units made lead-safe by the Home Safe Home program is available on the San Diego Housing Commission’s website.

Children's Right to Lead-Free Housing Ordinance

Although there are government programs available to help make homes lead-safe, the ultimate responsibility lies with the property owner. In April 2002, the San Diego City Council approved the Lead Safe Neighborhoods Program and changed city law to allow the city attorney to prosecute landlords who fail to remove lead-based paint hazards from their properties after a child living there has been found to have elevated blood-lead levels.  

At the same time, the City created a Lead Poisoning Prevention Citizens Advisory Task Force.  EHC’s Associate Director Leticia Ayala chaired the Ordinance Subcommittee.  Her priority: to make certain lead-based paint hazards were removed before a child was poisoned.  EHC contracted with the Western Center on Law and Poverty to help draft a new ordinance.  

After six years of effort and community organizing, the lead-safe housing ordinance was passed in March 2008.  The ordinance requires the use of lead-safe work practices and ensures that children living in rental homes are protected from the dangers of lead-based paint.  The ordinance is enforced by the City’s Environmental Services Department.

Key provisions of the ordinance are:

  • It is unlawful to create and/or maintain a lead hazard
  • It is unlawful not to reduce or eliminate a lead hazard
  • Lead-safe work practices must be employed whenever paint is disturbed or removed on a pre-1979 dwelling
  • Landlords are required to perform a visual inspection and to correct any lead hazard prior to reoccupancy of a vacant unit. The landlord must also correct the source of the problem causing the paint to deteriorate.
  • Child care facilities are required to obtain proof of blood lead testing at enrollment

For their combined efforts, the Advisory Committee was awarded a 2010 National Achievement in Environmental Justice Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Lead-Safe Practices workshops

Starting with EHC’s pilot project in 2002, we have been committed to promoting lead-safe practices, sponsoring trainings for our non-profit partners, the MAAC Project and the Urban Corps of San Diego, and for landlords, painters, day laborers and building managers responsible for repairs and maintenance.

Starting in April 2010, contractors performing home improvement activities on pre-1979 homes were required to be certified in accordance with EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Paint Rule.  EHC coordinates RRP trainings for the Home Safe Home Program.  Contact EHC for dates of upcoming trainings.

The City of San Diego's website also has links to resources for do-it-yourselfers and lead-awareness training for childcare providers (links are at the bottom of the page).

More work to be done

Passage of the Lead-Safe Housing ordinance was a major victory, but a provision requiring that any pre-1979 home be made lead-safe at the time of sale was defeated.  We continue to advocate for the inclusion of this requirement, especially upon change of ownership of multi-family complexes and single-family homes sold as rental units.

We won’t give up until ALL children can live in a lead-safe environment.