Lead Safe House

Real Estate Development: Lead Safe House

Millions of American homes, especially those built before the 1970s, contain lead-based paint that can permanently damage a child’s IQ, learning ability and fine motor skills if it is inhaled or consumed. After discovering lead in their apartments, New York City families are usually forced to leave their homes for months at a time while the city makes the necessary repairs.

The Montefiore Safe House, the nation’s first continuously operating house for victims of lead poisoning and their families, opened in October 1994 at 91 East Mosholu Parkway North, complete with six full apartments, indoor and outdoor play space for children and a full-time medical clinic. A number of private foundations helped finance the project, along with $1 million from then-Borough President Fernando Ferrer’s discretionary fund. The grant was managed and the property acquired by MPC for the medical center.

During their stay at the Safe House, families receive education through workshops in nutrition, family budgeting and parenting skills. The Lead Poisoning Prevention program at Montefiore also trains “lead busters,” volunteers who teach families about the risks of lead poisoning and their legal right to repairs.

Since the opening of the Montefiore Safe House, similar facilities have opened up in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Hartford, Conn.