Every child in DC deserves to grow up in a safe home. But in a recent Washington Post story, the Luster family shared how their toddler daughter suffered severe lead poisoning after living in a home inspected and approved by the DC housing office.
Children’s Law Center advocated for the Luster family, and sat down with Post reporter Terrence McCoy to talk about the topic.
The tragedy exposes key weaknesses in federal guidelines followed by the District and other cities to ensure safe housing for homeless families, especially those with young children, according to interviews with five housing advocates and experts. Instead of specifically testing for lead or asthma-inducing mold, D.C. inspectors following the guidelines visually check for peeling paint and deteriorating conditions.
To help a property pass an inspection, some landlords simply apply a fresh coat of paint and “it looks good for one day,” said Kathy Zeisel of the Children’s Law Center. “If there’s moisture, it starts peeling right away.”
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