The Detroit News - - Front Page - Staff Writer Jonathan Oost­ing con­trib­uted.

Those homes also have lead ser­vice lines snaking be­neath them. At a na­tional wa­ter con­fer­ence ear­lier this year in Flint, De­troit Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Depart­ment Di­rec­tor Gary Brown, call­ing it a “con­ser­va­tive” es­ti­mate, said De­troit has at least 125,000 lead ser­vice lines — prob­a­bly more than the rest of the state com­bined. The city is ex­plor­ing op­tions but does not cur­rently have a long-term re­place­ment pro­gram in place.

Lead ser­vice lines be­neath the city carry wa­ter into homes and busi­nesses and are a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous threat, but it could take decades to re­move them at a cost of up to $500 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to some es­ti­mates.

Khal­dun said the city al­ready is wag­ing a fierce bat­tle against lead poi­son­ing, with mul­ti­ple pro­grams aimed at clean­ing up houses and ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic. The lead poi­son­ing rate dropped 50 per­cent in De­troit be­tween 2009 and 2015. Khal­dun noted that the De­troit City Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved an or­di­nance on Oct. 31 that re­quires in­spec­tions of all rental prop­er­ties.

“(Be­cause of the or­di­nance) we will ac­tu­ally know ... what those lev­els of lead are in those homes, and we are work­ing with those land­lords and those own­ers so that they are do­ing some­thing about the lead in those homes,” Khal­dun said.

Lyke Thomp­son, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Ur­ban Stud­ies at Wayne State and project co­or­di­na­tor of the De­troit/Wayne County Green and Healthy Homes Ini­tia­tive, said the or­di­nance to force land­lords to get their prop­er­ties in­spected — which in­cludes lead paint in­spec­tion — will help pre­vent poi­son­ings.

Un­der cur­rent law, hous­ing units are sup­posed to be reg­is­tered and have passed city in­spec­tions by ob­tain­ing a cer­tifi­cate of com­pli­ance be­fore they can be rented out. But city of­fi­cials ad­mit they have let the vast ma­jor­ity of land­lords ig­nore the rules for more than a decade, The News re­ported last month.

If land­lords refuse to fol­low the rules, renters will be able to es­crow rent af­ter a se­ries of dead­lines, un­der reg­u­la­tions passed late last month. Mayor Mike Dug­gan has added staff and con­trac­tors to do rental in­spec­tions.

Land­lords will need to get an ini­tial $450-$700 lead in­spec­tion and then an an­nual $250 risk as­sess­ment, where a trained in­spec­tor looks for prob­lems like peel­ing paint.

Khal­dun said the city is launch­ing a lead ex­po­sure pre­ven­tion pro­gram this month in part­ner­ship with the Wayne State Uni­ver­sity Cen­ter for Ur­ban Stud­ies and ClearCorps De­troit, a non­profit lead mit­i­ga­tion group.

“They’re al­ready go­ing into the homes and show­ing fam­i­lies how to ap­pro­pri­ately clean their homes so that their chil­dren are not at risk, why we thought ‘ Why don’t we move de­mo­li­tion in­for­ma­tion into those home vis­its,’ ” Khal­dun said.

Ab­dul El-Sayed., the for­mer city health depart­ment di­rec­tor now run­ning for gov­er­nor, said he led the study on lead ex­po­sure and hous­ing de­mo­li­tions and a task force that com­piled rec­om­men­da­tions and made sure the re­port was made pub­lic.

The re­port was posted on­line, and El-Sayed said he hopes re­cent me­dia scru­tiny will com­pel more ur­gent ac­tion. He said he’s dis­ap­pointed that not all of the Task Force’s 18 rec­om­men­da­tion have been im­ple­mented.

“My hope is they they ... will get this done im­me­di­ately, be­cause kids de­serve the best and they de­serve that when the city does some­thing like de­mol­ish a home — which I think is done in part for pub­lic health pur­poses, that it is done with pub­lic health in mind and that it as safe as it pos­si­bly can be,” El-Sayed said.

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