Lancaster council passes ordinance to prevent lead dangers

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – It’s Sara Johns’ job as the executive director of Mom’s House of Lancaster to watch children as their parents try to earn an education.

“These are critical times in these children’s lives,” she said.

Johns is also passionate about keeping children safe from the dangers of lead, so it’s easy to see why she supports an ordinance passed Tuesday by Lancaster City Council that toughens restrictions on lead.

Johns said while she supports the ordinance, she worries about what it will mean for her clients – most of whom are renters – when they search for places to live.

“This is critical for them to be in a home that’s safe,” Johns said. “If you’re a low-income family or just a renter in general, you need to know your house is safe.”

The ordinance requires landlords to certify properties built before 1978 are lead safe or lead-free before they rent to families with children ages 6 or younger.

The fear among some is that landlords will not pay for the updates or will not rent to families seeking shelter.

“That’s housing discrimination and it’s against the law,” Councilwoman and Mayor-elect Danene Sorace said.

Sorace said the city is targeting landlords of young families since those children are at the highest risk.

The city will check lease agreements and track lead certifications. Landlords who fail to get on board could lose the ability to rent their property.

“We know that there are 12,000 properties,” Sorace said. “We know that 300 of them have been certified. We also know there are other properties that are lead safe but they haven’t been certified yet.”

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