Cleveland will begin taking steps to enable a massive and much-needed series of citywide rental inspections this month, city leaders announced recently.
The inspections are aimed at “preventing lead poisoning and making sure rentals are safer and healthier for children,” The Plain Dealer reports.
The rollout will begin with a request to city council for a Building & Housing Department budget that will include funds for 33 new staff members. From there, the department will ask Cleveland City Council to pass legislation that encourages landlords to register their units by way of stick more than carrot — penalizing them with a minor misdemeanor — which The Plain Dealer explains as “the housing code equivalent of a speeding ticket.”
In April, the department plans to make its new hires and form a 13-person rental inspection unit. Inspections will begin in July and last for an estimated five years, which is the length of time the city believes necessary to cover the roughly 84,000 rental units.
According to another Plain Dealer story on the topic, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has said that “if an ethical or moral standard were applied to inspecting Cleveland’s low-income rental homes for safety, about three-quarters of it would be ‘closed up.’”
The need for inspections was revealed by an investigative series by the paper, which found much to be desired in how officials responded to reports of childhood lead poisoning.
“Without enough staff to keep up, less than half of the homes where children were poisoned over a recent five-year period were inspected,” according to the paper’s analysis.
The full inspection timeline, from 2017 to 2019, can be viewed here.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.