Syracuse Common Council will hold public information meeting on Feb. 12

City of Syracuse offers assistance to property owners in preparing for implementation of the law

The public comment period on a comprehensive environmental review of the proposed new lead ordinance in the City of Syracuse opens on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Fifth District Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll urged residents and landlords to participate in the process now so they understand the impacts of the legislation and know what assistance is available to make homes safer.

In a press conference Tuesday at Syracuse City Hall, the Mayor and Councilor Driscoll provided information on how the proposed lead ordinance will work; reviewed how people can participate in the public comment period on the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS); announced a public input meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 12; and provided information on U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) financial assistance available to property owners to mitigate the presence of lead in residential properties.

“We’re using a three-pronged approach with this legislation to address the risk of lead poisoning in our community,” said Mayor Walsh. “First, we have identified high risk areas for lead-based paint hazards using data from our partners on inspections and blood lead level tests. Second, we will empower code inspectors to test for lead during inspections even when deteriorated paint is not visible. And third, we will require the unit is made lead safe.”

“This legislation is an important step in the effort to keep families and children safe from the dangers of lead contamination,” said Councilor Driscoll, who has been working toward passage of the landmark ordinance for nearly two years. “It’s also important to relay the message to landlords and property owners that government is working as a partner addressing this issue, with the HUD funded Syracuse Lead Program providing millions of dollars in grants to help fight this problem.” 

Lead Exposure Poses Severe Risk to Children

Recent  studies  indicate  that  10.7%  (446)  of  tested  children  under  age  6  in  the  City  of  Syracuse  have  an  elevated  blood  lead  level  (EBLL), according to data contained in the DGEIS. In  addition,  87%  of  all  children  with  EBLLs  in  Onondaga  County  reside  in  the  City, where nearly all single, two, and three-family structures were built before 1978.   

Children are especially susceptible to lead contamination, particularly children under six years old, because  their  bodies  absorb  lead  4-5  times  faster  than  adults,  leading  to  a  magnification  of  contamination effects, according to the DGEIS. The rapid cognitive and physical development of children and infants also increases their risk to lead exposure, and can lead to lifelong harm.

Proposed Lead Ordinance Addresses Lead Risk

Under the proposed legislation, the City has identified high risk areas in Syracuse for lead exposure, allowing code inspectors to take dust swipe samples in pre-1978 structures even where deteriorated paint is not visible. The new law will set a standard to clear a property for residency and allow recertification every three years in high-risk areas. The new law is expected to go before the Council for review in mid-March and to be acted upon during the spring. The proposed timetable would enable implementation of inspections before the end of 2020.

Public Information Meeting and Public Comment Period

The Common Council will hold a public information meeting on the DGEIS on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Common Council Chambers, Syracuse City Hall, 201 E. Washington Street. The City Division of Code Enforcement will provide an overview of the DGEIS and the proposed new ordinance. Councilors will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the document. Members of the public will be allowed to make statements regarding the DGEIS, which includes a draft ordinance.

The 30-day public comment period on the DGEIS will be open through March 5, 2020. Comments must be submitted in writing by email to or hand delivered or mailed to the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, 201 E. Washington St., Suite 600, Syracuse, NY 13202.

Financial Assistance for Lead Hazard Reduction

The City of Syracuse has received $3,500,000 in a HUD Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant and $600,000 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding to assist property owners to reduce the risk of lead hazards and lead prevention. The grant allows eligible property owners and landlords to apply for funding and assistance in fixing lead-based paint hazards. The grants will provide financial assistance to eligible applicants to reduce lead hazards in approximately 230 housing units with funding still available for in excess of 150 units. Information on eligibility and applying is at or by call (315) 448-8710.

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