[Parentsgroup-list] delead apartments/Cohousing...

wenc at fas.harvard.edu wenc at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Jun 26 18:45:51 EDT 2006


The deleading issue is something we've defnitely mentioned to the Harvard
administration as another reason why housing is such a problem for grad
students, but maybe we need to emphasize it more.  I know they are trying to
build more grad student housing (I think they want to see half of the grad
student population in Harvard-affiliated housing by some point??) but obviously
there are other people on their list besides us.

Deleading doesn't have to be really expensive--it just depends on how bad it is,
if windows have been replaced yet, etc.  It can be anywhere from $3000 to
$20,000+ to delead.  However, the state or the cities will give interest-free
loans to small landlords to get it done, and there is also a state tax credit
for deleading costs.  No, it's not fair that landlords have to pay the costs of
paint companies knowing for DECADES (centuries, really!) that lead paint was
poisonous (lead was banned in Europe before it was here), but that's how it's
come to pass.

One of my fantasy ideas for Harvard grad student parents is to have Harvard
build or renovate a condo building or bunch of townhouses and sell them to grad
student families as a subsidized cohousing or co-op project.  The idea is that
as we finished our degrees and left, we'd sell them to incoming students.  You
wouldn't be able to make more than, say, a 3% profit (based on inflation
mostly), and they'd all be priced below market rate (unless the market tanks),
but you'd own your housing for about what it would cost to rent (or less) and
you'd get the tax deduction etc. AND except for mortgage interest, you wouldn't
be throwing money away on rent b/c you'd get it back when you sold. There's no
way this could happen in Cambridge unless Harvard was willing to eat a lot of
the startup costs, but after that they wouldn't have to deal with it since the
people who lived there would be the ones who ran the buildings.  Would probably
require some creative financing, but.  It's something I've thought about.

Christine



Quoting Heather Gray <hgray at wjh.harvard.edu>:

> We're dealing with this problem right now, and I'd just recommend people
> speak with their pediatricians if they think they might have to settle
> for a non-deleaded apartment.  I had a long conversation with Carol
> Browne (our NP at UHS) and she gave me lots of information and sent a
> big packet of pamphlets from the state. I'm still not sure if we're
> willing to settle, but at least now we know what's important to look for.
>
> --Heather
>
>
> W. Evan Johnson wrote:
>
> > Just a quick comment (putting the debate between landlords and renters
> > aside):
> >
> > Anyone (with children) who has tried finding a deleaded apartment
> > clearly understands the discrimination issue that several others have
> > alluded to. We just recently experienced this 'joy' yet again while
> > apartment shopping: several landlords and real estate agents refused
> > to show us a house because we have young children. Also, I noticed
> > that the cheaper apts are often not deleaded (probably because the
> > deleaded apts are more likely to be newly remodeled or because
> > landlords are trying to get their deleading money back).
> >
> > I guess my point here is that we really are a disadvantaged group when
> > it comes to housing. I was wondering if this was brought up clearly
> > our group's recent meetings with Harvard administration. You'd think
> > that if Harvard really valued diversity and claims to give incentives
> > to disadvantaged/minority groups, Harvard would be a leader in
> > providing reasonably priced or subsidized housing. Have we already
> > mentioned this?
> >
> > I'm guessing that we've already done this, but if not, I think we
> > should definitely add this to our cause!
> >
> > Evan
> >
> > At 03:21 PM 6/26/2006 -0400, jbarnes at fas.harvard.edu wrote:
> >
> >> Marion:
> >>
> >> You give the state legislature far too much credit.  The fact that
> >> the law is
> >> terrible for small landlords is not in dispute here (though I'm sure
> >> we could
> >> make it a dispute!).  As hard as it is to believe that any state
> >> would make
> >> such a law, the language is fairly clear:
> >>
> >> "What does the lead law require?
> >> The Lead Law requires the removal or covering of lead paint hazards
> >> in homes
> >> built before 1978 where any children under six live. Lead paint
> >> hazards include
> >> loose lead paint and lead paint on windows and other surfaces
> >> accessible to
> >> children. Owners are responsible with complying with the law. This
> >> includes
> >> owners of rental property as well as owners living in their own
> >> single family
> >> home. Financial help is available through tax credits, grants and
> >> loans."
> >>
> >>
>
http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eohhs2terminal&&L=6&L0=Home&L1=Government&L2=Laws%2c+Regulations+and+Policies&L3=Department+of+Public+Health+Regulations+%26+Policies&L4=Regulations+and+Other+Publications+-+I+to+L&L5=Lead+-+The+Massachusetts+Lead+Law+and+Legal+Documents&sid=Eeohhs2&b=terminalcontent&f=dph_environmental_lead_g_lead_law_require&csid=Eeohhs2
> >>
> >>
> >> If anyone can find language that provides for any exceptions I'd be
> >> glad to be
> >> proven wrong...but I haven't found any yet.
> >>
> >> Jesse
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Quoting Marion Tenney Gross <mgross at fas.harvard.edu>:
> >>
> >> > I just saw someone post that landlords renting an apartment in
> >> their own
> >> > home (half of a two family) are required to delead. Unless there
> >> has been
> >> > a recent law change that is not accurate. Given that many landlords
> >> would
> >> > lose their home (both their actual home and the rental apartment,
> >> in this
> >> > situation) if forced to pay the tens of thousands of dollars to
> >> delead,
> >> > this makes sense. As the owner of a two-family I just want to point
> >> out
> >> > that many landlords are living rent check to rent check to pay their
> >> > mortgage and blaming them because an apartment is old and may have
> >> lead is
> >> > not fair. If you want to ask the state to pay for massive deleading
> >> in an
> >> > area, fine, but small landlords simply can't afford it. Of course, the
> >> > vast majority of "lead" apartments will never contaminate your
> >> child, but
> >> > legally the landlord is liable (in some cases) if their tenant is
> >> > concerned. In our case,
> >> > though we have two children in an old house, if we rented in the other
> >> > apartment to someone with
> >> > a child and they complained, we would be out on the street (if what
> >> was
> >> > suggested is accurate). It's a public
> >> > health/legal problem  - let's take it easy on the landlords!
> >> >
> >> > On Mon, 26 Jun 2006, candice belanoff wrote:
> >> >
> >> > > We definitely encountered some egregious housing discrimination
> >> when we
> >> > > first moved to Boston on account of having a child under 6
> >> (having a dog
> >> > > only compounded the problem). Many, MANY landlords refused to
> >> show us their
> >> > > apartments when they heard we had a kid; and one, who seemed like
> >> a decent
> >> > > enough person, said she simply could not afford to delead, (also
> >> having
> >> > > something to do with the fact that it was a condo building and
> >> all the
> >> > > tenants would have to agree to it -- blah blah blah -- still
> >> illegal, but
> >> > > you kind of see where there's a barrier for individual
> >> home-owners.)  And I
> >> > > hate to say, but a broker (evil) even refused to show us
> >> anything, claiming
> >> > > she had nothing deleaded to show. If I'd had the resources and
> >> gumption at
> >> > > the time, I would have raised some hell about it, but I had
> >> neither, and
> >> > > just wanted a place to live. We were lucky and found a deleaded
> >> place in
> >> > > Mission Hill. Seems like some landlords are very motivated to
> >> rent to nice
> >> > > quiet families in neighborhoods which traditionally draw groups
> >> of students
> >> > > renting apartments. Might be an angle to work.
> >> > >
> >> > > --candice
> >> > >
> >> > >
> >> > > At 02:05 PM 6/26/2006 -0400, wenc at fas.harvard.edu wrote:
> >> > > >Actually, MA law requires that all kids under 6 have to live in
> >> deleaded
> >> > > >housing.  No landlord can get around this except illegally, so
> >> landlords
> >> > who
> >> > > >are renting apts in their own home ARE required to delead.  If
> >> they told
> >> > you
> >> > > >otherwise they are in error.  There is a lot of mythology out
> >> there among
> >> > > >landlords about lead, so I wouldn't pay too much attention to
> >> what a
> >> > landlord
> >> > > >says.  Look at the mass.gov web site or the Mass Dept of Public
> >> Health for
> >> > the
> >> > > >real information.  Even homeowners are supposed to delead--Mass
> >> has some
> >> > > >of the
> >> > > >most stringent lead laws in the country.
> >> > > >
> >> > > >You might have more luck with a broker, unfortunately.  Since it
> >> takes
> >> > some
> >> > > >money and effort to delead, I think many landlords prefer to use
> >> a more
> >> > formal
> >> > > >screening process with a broker.  I would recommend a guy named
> >> Paul at
> >> > Metro
> >> > > >Realty on Mass Ave in Cambridge--he helped me find a
> >> decently-priced
> >> > deleaded
> >> > > >apt very quickly.  I think that it's not uncommon for the
> >> landlord to pay
> >> > the
> >> > > >fee or to pay half the fee (usually a month's rent), though with
> >> the
> >> > changing
> >> > > >housing market this might not be the case as much anymore.
> >> > > >
> >> > > >Also, newer buildings (built post-1978) will not have lead
> >> paint, so if
> >> > > >you find
> >> > > >a place there you do not have to worry about lead.
> >> > > >
> >> > > >I had a lead poisoning scare with my son that turned out to be
> >> an error,
> >> > > >but in
> >> > > >the process I learned that it's not really something you want to
> >> mess
> >> > > >with--you
> >> > > >need to be in deleaded housing.  (I was staying in a
> >> non-deleaded house at
> >> > the
> >> > > >time)  But I also learned that it's QUITE easy for there to be
> >> errors when
> >> > > >your
> >> > > >kid gets their blood lead test at the doctor.  The finger-stick
> >> test can
> >> > be
> >> > > >totally wrong, as it was with me--apparently my son just stuck
> >> his finger
> >> > in
> >> > > >some leaded dust on his way to the doc or something (East Coast
> >> cities are
> >> > > >powdered with lead, from leaded gasoline days and from 200 years of
> >> > flaking
> >> > > >lead paint--it's in the soil, all over the place), and so his
> >> lead level
> >> > came
> >> > > >back pretty high.  The arm stick test showed that his level was
> >> actually
> >> > much
> >> > > >lower and wasn't anything to worry much about.
> >> > > >
> >> > > >
> >> > > >
> >> > > >
> >> > > >Quoting Kyla Ebels Duggan <ebels at fas.harvard.edu>:
> >> > > >
> >> > > > > Here are two possibilities for deleaded apartments:
> >> > > > >
> >> > > > > Our current apartment is in Union Square in Somerville on Putnam
> >> > Street.
> >> > > > > It's managed by Greater Boston Properties, and you can find
> >> the number
> >> > on
> >> > > > > the web.  There is a whole row of townhousey buildings, all
> >> deleaded.
> >> > The
> >> > > > > management is not stellar, but not terrible, and the
> >> apartments are
> >> > > > > spacious.
> >> > > > >
> >> > > > > Another possibility is our old landlord, Hugh Gelch.  He has
> >> some
> >> > deleaded
> >> > > > > places, and is working on upgrading all of his places (a rare
> >> landlord
> >> > who
> >> > > > > follows the law on this without having his arm twisted).  He
> >> was a
> >> > great
> >> > > > > landlord.  His number is (617) 964-4220.  He doesn't have a
> >> whole lot
> >> > of
> >> > > > > places in Somerville, and most of what he has is quite small.
> >> > > > >
> >> > > > > Also, we learned in looking for a place that landlords who
> >> are just
> >> > > > > renting out an apartment in their own home are not required
> >> to delead
> >> > like
> >> > > > > others are.
> >> > > > >
> >> > > > > good luck!
> >> > > > > Kyla
> >> > > > >
> >> > > > > On Mon, 26 Jun 2006, Anna Shusterman wrote:
> >> > > > >
> >> > > > > > Hi,
> >> > > > > > It is a bit tricky around here. However there are some
> >> financial
> >> > > > incentives
> >> > > > > > (at least in somerville) for landlords to delead -- it is
> >> not as
> >> > > > costly or
> >> > > > > > time consuming as they would have you believe. Our landlord
> >> deleaded
> >> > > > for us
> >> > > > > > (after our other landlord kicked us out -- win some, lose
> >> some). In
> >> > > > theory,
> >> > > > > > according to the law, they cannot deny you housing based on
> >> the fact
> >> > that
> >> > > > > > you have a small child, and they *have* to bring the
> >> apartment into
> >> > > > > > compliance with the lead laws. It depends how pushy you
> >> want to be to
> >> > > > make
> >> > > > > > it clear to potential landlords that you know that law and
> >> you know
> >> > that
> >> > > > > > they are violating it.
> >> > > > > > There are deleaded apartments and decent landlords around,
> >> though --
> >> > you
> >> > > > > > just have to look hard for them. Some postings don't
> >> advertise that
> >> > they
> >> > > > > are
> >> > > > > > deleaded, and if the apartment looks freshly renovated, you
> >> can move
> >> > > > in and
> >> > > > > > then insist that the landlord do lead testing and bring the
> >> place
> >> > into
> >> > > > > > compliance. I think that even if you sign the "lead
> >> disclosure" form
> >> > that
> >> > > > > > they provide, if they rent to you with a small child they
> >> are not off
> >> > the
> >> > > > > > hook -- they still have to bring the place into compliance.
> >> I would
> >> > > > double
> >> > > > > > check this, though.
> >> > > > > > Good luck -- if I hear of any good deleaded apartments I
> >> will post
> >> > them
> >> > > > > > here.
> >> > > > > > -Anna
> >> > > > > >
> >> > > > > >
> >> > > > > > On 6/26/06, Jenny Kirsten Ataoguz <jksmith at fas.harvard.edu>
> >> wrote:
> >> > > > > > >
> >> > > > > > > dear All,
> >> > > > > > > We have started apartment hunting and have learned that with
> >> > > > children it
> >> > > > > > > is
> >> > > > > > > a bit tricky because of the issue of deleading.  Does
> >> everyone live
> >> > in
> >> > > > > > > deleaded apartments?  Is it really difficult to find one?
> >> > > > > > > Thanks,
> >> > > > > > > Kirsten Ataoguz
> >> > > > > > >
> >> > > > > > >
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