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San Francisco | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services

A Warning to Occupants and Owners of Homes Included in San Francisco’s Lead Hazard Program
by Rita O'Flynn
Tuesday Jun 19th, 2012 8:36 PM
From approximately 1999 to the present, the City of San Francisco received over $12 million in HUD funding to render the homes of low-income families with children under the age of six free of lead-based paint hazards. Although the grants from HUD indicate that the City must perform its services in compliance with applicable State and Federal law, the City claims it is not contractually obligated to property owners to perform lead-hazard reduction activities in compliance with State and Federal law. The City used knowingly used doctored forms to document clearance and it is uncertain that these homes are safe from the health risks associated with lead-based paint. All interested regulatory agencies are aware of the problem but are not being proactive to protect the health and well-being of the residents of homes included in the City's Lead Hazard Program, especially children under the age of 6 who are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead-based paint.
A Warning to Occupants and Owners of Homes Included in San Francisco’s Lead Hazard Program

If your home was included in the City’s HUD-funded Lead Hazard Program from 1999 to the present, the City may have filed a doctored Department of Health Service (DHS) Form 8552, Lead Hazard Evaluation indicating that lead-based paint hazards are present at your home while representing to you that your home is safe from lead-based paint hazards.

The City has been using at least two versions of a doctored DHS 8552 Form as documentation of lead-based paint hazard clearance, both materially altered from the original and both indicating the presence of ongoing lead-based paint hazards. The State of California Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch (CLPPB) has traced these doctored forms to the City and County of San Francisco only.

An independent, third-party, lead-based paint hazard expert reviewed the work done by the City at two homes included in its Lead Hazard Program. It was determined that neither home was properly assessed to identify all lead-based paint hazards nor were they remediated or abated of identified lead-based paint hazards as required by State and Federal law. It was also determined that a doctored DHS 8552 form was filed by the City with CLPPB as clearance of lead-based paint hazards for both of these homes. There is a real risk that other homes with clearances documented on doctored DHS 8552 forms may not have been fully assessed for lead-based paint hazards or be remediated or abated of known lead-based paint hazards. These homes may pose a significant health risks to residents, especially children under the age of 6 who are particularly vulnerable to the long-term devastating and potentially lethal effects of lead-based paint.

The City, State, HUD, and EPA are aware of use of the doctored forms and the possible failure of the City’s Lead Hazard Program to render homes safe from lead-based paint hazards as mandated by law but have taken no steps to determine the actual lead-based paint status of homes included in the City’s Lead Hazard Program or to inform the owners/occupants of homes for which a doctored DHS 8552 form was filed with CLPPB that lead-based paint health risks may still exist.

If you are the owner or resident of a home included in the City’s Lead Hazard Program you are strongly encouraged to request a copy of the DHS 8552 form the City filed with CLPPB. You can do so by requesting this directly from the CLPPB. This form should have been filed within 30 days of the actual lead-hazard clearance inspection and you should be suspect of any undoctored forms filed several years after the date of the inspection. Should your property be among those for which a doctored form was filed, you should take immediate steps to assure that your home is actually safe for occupancy, including, requesting inspection from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. This department provides lead-based paint risk assessment at no cost if a child under the age of 6 resides or spends at least 6 hours a week in the home.

You will need to be very proactive in getting the City to redress any failure on its part to render your home safe from lead-based paint hazards and may need to seek legal advice in order to assure that your interests are protected.