Councilmember Reynolds Brown Moves Forward on Amended Bill to Remove Lead-Based Paint from City Apartments
After a summer of work on legislation to make apartments in Philadelphia safer for children by ensuring lead-based paint is removed, Councilmember Blondell Reynolds Brown (At Large) today moved forward an amended bill that establishes clear guidelines for how often older apartments must be certified as safe from lead and when the bill would take effect.
Updating this legislation has been a priority policy goal of Reynolds Brown as well as many advocates for children in Philadelphia exposed to lead-based paint and lead poisoning at levels significantly higher than other cities.
“Philadelphia has three times more poisoned children than Flint, Michigan,” Councilmember Reynolds Brown said in a floor speech Thursday. “Philadelphia’s children, however, are being poisoned by lead paint and lead paint dust in their homes.”
Long considered an advocate for children, Councilmember Reynolds Brown detailed the history of the city’s lead-based paint ordinance, first signed into law in 2012, and what she termed “challenges” arising since that her amendments are designed to address.
“Fact: In 2018, six years after implementation of the 2012 law, 1,568 children tested positive for lead in the City of Philadelphia,” said Reynolds Brown, “including 369 children with significantly elevated blood-lead levels.”
- Apartment buildings will be required to be certified as lead-safe every four years.
- If a building is certified as lead-free, the certification is a one-time only requirement.
- The ordinance if approved will take effect October 1, 2020.
- As a transition period to come into compliance with the law, all rental units that come under the ordinance will be required to comply by April 1, 2022. (This is to allow city agencies, including Health and L & I, to have appropriate IT systems in place by then to capture all rental units.)
- Landlords receive protection to ensure they have access to do necessary remediation, and tenants receive protections to ensure costs of compliance are not passed on to them, or that they are subjected to retaliation.
Advocates for children filled the Council chamber today and urged Council to approve Reynolds Brown’s amended bill.
Taking Action on Climate Change
Council members took heed of climate change Thursday, and passed several resolutions demonstrating the legislative body’s growing awareness of the existential threat to our environment posed by global warming.
Councilmembers Maria Quiñones Sánchez (7th District) and Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution that noted a number of policy goals set by the city on energy consumption in recent years, and then recommended a new goal:
“The City of Philadelphia shall take measures to achieve a fair and equitable transition to the use of 100 percent clean renewable energy for electricity in municipal operations by 2030, for electricity city-wide by 2035, and for all energy (including heat and transportation) city-wide by 2050 or sooner.”
The resolution was co-sponsored by Councilmember Derek Green (At Large).
In another action demonstrating Council’s environmental awareness, Councilmember Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution recognizing the United Nations as that world body prepares to gather for a Climate Action Summit on Monday.
Reynolds Brown’s resolution notes that United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is calling on world leaders to come to Monday’s summit in New York City with plans to enhance their country’s contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.
Protecting Municipal Workers on the Job
Councilmember Bobby Henon, supported by Councilmember Cherelle Parker (9th District), introduced a resolution urging the state legislature to approve a Worker Safety bill aimed at city, state and federal workers who do not currently enjoy the protections of the federal OSHA law.
“Most people don’t know that our police officers, our sanitation workers do not enjoy the protections of workplace safety guaranteed under OSHA,” Councilman Henon said. “The Jake Schwab Worker Safety legislation in Harrisburg would change that.”
In other action, Henon introduced a resolution to hold hearings on issues involving negligent and absentee landlords who allow properties to become blighted and community eyesores, negatively impacting neighborhood quality of life. Although the Council member did not specify any particular neighborhood, social media accounts frequently mention this problem taking place in areas such as Tacony and Holmesburg, both of which are in the Council member’s 6th District.
Promoting Women of Color in the Workplace
Councilmember Parker introduced a resolution commending a non-profit organization for its work supporting young women and their efforts to find pathways forward in the professional workplace – specifically in the construction and building trades.
The resolution commends Mentoring Young Women in Construction (MYWIC), a free, six-day camp that is available to girls in 7th through 12th grade and is put on by the NAWIC Philadelphia Foundation and Girls Inc.
“This is a worthy endeavor for rowhouse women, for women not born into wealth,” Parker noted. The resolution notes that while the pay gap between men and women tends to be narrower in the construction trades industry, women remain under-represented in the trades, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Protecting Young People Placed in Residential Treatment Facilities
Following a series of dramatic, negative news stories about how young people placed in residential treatment facilities were being mistreated and abused by staff – including some young people from Philadelphia – the city embarked on an extensive investigation and review of its entire system of residential treatments and placements. This review was sparked and called for by Councilmembers Helen Gym, Kenyatta Johnson and others.
Thursday, in briefings at City Hall and in a public meeting that evening, a panel of city leaders, including members Gym and Johnson, heard the results of that review, including an extensive series of recommendations contained in a draft report released to the public.
The draft report contains an array of detailed recommendations calling for more coordination among city and state agencies on how young people are placed in facilities; a recommendation that youth whenever possible should be placed in more community settings closer to where they are from; recommendations concerning the role that school officials can and should play in getting the right services to at-risk youth, and numerous other recommendations.
… Inside the Rail
Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr. today will host a series of Rock the Block events on streets throughout his 4th Council District – events designed to provide neighborhood residents with access to multiple city services they may not otherwise know how to access.
The Rock the Block events are being held today on the 3100 blocks of N. 27th Street, N. Marston Street and N. Pennock Streets.
Councilmember Al Taubenberger (At Large) promoted an international student exchange during Council today between students from Washington Carver High, a school in Council President Clarke’s district, and a high school in Frankfurt, Germany. The student exchange was sponsored by the group, Citizen Diplomacy International.
The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled for next Thursday, September 26, at 10 a.m. in Council chambers on the 4th floor at City Hall.
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