Page Originally Published on August 13, 2013
The Lead Safe America Foundation (LSAF) “Safe-House” program is still a nascent idea that has come out of our work with families.
For most families with a lead-poisoned child or children, the first, critical action is to remove the family from an unsafe environment. In some cases this is extremely difficult or practically impossible. Immediate challenges may include finding a comparable (or suitable) lead-safe rental property to move the family to, as well as finding one that might accept a family with several children (and perhaps pets as well).
In some cases a family might choose to stay in a hotel for a week to ten days while their home is being tested, cleaned up and re-tested—however if you have ever had to endure an extended emergency stay in a hotel room with young children, you know first hand how challenging this can be (even with “only” one or two children!)
It is Tamara’s dream and goal for LSAF to purchase, maintain and make available to families LSAF “safe-houses” in major metropolitan areas in the country. Cities that she would like to start with include Boston, MA, Rochester,NY, Los Angeles, CA, Portland, OR, and New Orleans, LA.
An ideal situation would be that each of these major metropolitan areas has a minimum of at least one LSAF Safe-House to help in situations like this. An LSAF Safe-House would be maintained and known to be lead-safe and free of environmental hazards (including lead, mold, asbestos, and radon, etc.) LSAF Safe-Houses would be fully-furnished single-family dwellings and available free of charge to families who need a safe temporary stay while relocating. Safe-houses would be in pleasant neighborhoods that are conveniently located, they would also have fenced yards and other amenities appropriate for a home for young children. A family forced to leave their home and seek temporary housing by the un-anticipated crisis of a lead-poisoned child or the discovery of imminent lead exposure hazards should not have to be further burdened by being forced to live (even temporarily) in an isolated, un-desireable or un-safe neighborhood or sub-standard housing. Tamara has a 16-year history as a landlord renting and managing environmentally safe, fully furnished and short-term homes to families, and will be able to easily apply this background, knowledge and expertise to making this project successful.
Costs to purchase, create & furnish a LSAF Safe-House will vary from state to state depending on real estate pricing and availability (with an emphasis being to focus on purchasing only newer-construction homes when possible.) We have been looking at potential homes around the country for prices ranging from as little as $40,000 to as much as $300,000. Once a home is purchased, most homes can be fully furnished with non-toxic/natural fiber (kid-friendly & easily replaceable) furnishings and house-wares from Ikea for $10,000 to $15,000 and homes can tested and made non-toxic with a budget in the $10,000 to $15,000 range as well (depending on the size, age and condition of the home.)
Once LSAF Safe-Houses are procured and set up, LSAF will work closely with local public agencies to make them available to families in need, free of charge.
As a tandem-goal is to create satellite offices of LSAF around the country as well, we will look for properties that have the potential to both serve as a LSAF Safe-House and that may also house an office-location for one of our satellite offices (a two-unit property or possibly properties with out-buildings that could be set up as an office.)
The Lead Safe America Foundation is actively looking for major donors to help start this program. Donors can participate with tax-deductible cash or in-kind donations to cover: real estate, furnishings, toxicity testing and remediation and resources to administer the program.