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The Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation approves $5 million for the Lead Safe Home Fund

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation has committed $5 million to the Lead Safe Home Fund, a first-of-its kind, public-private partnership that will provide families and property owners the resources they need to make homes lead safe. This, along with investments from the City of Cleveland, State of Ohio, and philanthropic partners, brings the total pool of funds to more than $18 million.

“We believe that our investment in the Lead Safe Home Fund will be a powerful lever for change,” said Chairman Stephen H. Hoffman.  “Lead poisoning continues to negatively impact our children’s health and future. We owe it to Cleveland’s children to improve their neighborhoods and their homes—creating lead safe homes is a long overdue investment into our communities.”

In recent months, the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition has expanded to more than 400 members, all working to bolster implementation of City of Cleveland Ordinance 747-2019—the law that requires rental units built before 1978 be certified lead safe beginning in March 2021. The Lead Safe Home Fund, administered by CHN Housing Partners and Environmental Health Watch, serves as a centerpiece of this support.

Mandel Foundation President and CEO Jehuda Reinharz stated, “We have joined a broad coalition of community partners to implement strategies to improve the lives and health of our children. Our financial commitment signals that this is an issue that needs our immediate response.”

The Coalition structured the Fund to be transparent and flexible—managed outside of government—and recently has begun capitalizing it. The Coalition set a five-year, $99.4 million budget for the initiative, which revolves around two critical, interrelated functions. The first is a spectrum of lead safe home loans and grants; the second, a resource center to facilitate system navigation, workforce development, and resident services.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic forces us to shelter-in-place, we are reminded how important a safe and decent home is,” said Mitchell Balk, President of the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and Chair of the Governance Committee. “All children, no matter their backgrounds, should be afforded every opportunity to live up to their fullest potential. Lead poisoning is an issue of equity, and now is the time to invest in this most basic human need for children today and into the future.”

Partnership from the Mandel Foundation signals both a commitment to Cleveland’s future as well as an invitation to other investors to join the Fund. Lead poisoning affects everyone, and Cleveland must take responsibility for addressing it together.

Said Kim Foreman, Executive Director of Environmental Health Watch: “For decades we have known lead poisoning is a public health crisis. We’re finally at a place where the community is coming together to collaboratively invest in not just lead poisoning prevention, but the systematic shift we need to improve our homes and our neighborhoods. With Mandel Foundation support, we will keep pushing to make this community safe for our most vulnerable kids.”

About Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition

The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition is an inclusive, public-private partnership founded to address lead poisoning through a comprehensive, preventive, and long-term approach. This approach protects Cleveland’s children by merging smart, adaptable public policies; knowledgeable agencies willing to collaborate; proven community programs and leaders; and public and private sector accountability. With community voice embedded in all aspects, the Coalition is working on: 1) Supporting and measuring the City of Cleveland’s Lead Safe Certificate system, 2) Developing a lead safe workforce, 3) Rolling out a public awareness campaign, 4) Advocating for state and federal lead safe policies and resources, 5) Securing investments into the Lead Safe Home Fund, and 6) Launching the Lead Safe Resource Center and Home Loans and Grants. Initial support for the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition came from the City of Cleveland, the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, the Saint Luke’s Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, the Bruening Foundation, the Sisters of Charity Foundation, the Third Federal Foundation, and United Way of Greater Cleveland. Today, the Coalition has over 400 members and six working committees and continues to grow. Website: Email: Twitter: @LeadSafeCLE, #LeadSafeCLE.