Friday, April 9, 2010

No Room For You

After my wife graduates from Harvard in May, we would like to move the family out of Cambridge into a community with a bit more open space. We also value having reasonable commutes for both of us. My wife will be working in Wakefield and I travel with the kids to Lasell each morning. We've decided the Belmont, Lexington, Arlington area of greater Boston is where we would like to live. It took weeks of studying maps and practicing commutes in rush hour traffic to come to this conclusion. Now all we have to do is find a comfortable place to rent in one of these towns. Craiglist is loaded with listings so this should be easy. Wrong.

While there are hundreds of listings, let's take a look at how many are documented as being deleaded. In Arlington, there are currently 304 listings for apartments on Craigslist. Two are identified as deleaded.

Many people have suggested we don't worry about lead. After all, we grew up with lead in our homes and we are fine. True. We also grew up not wearing seat belts and we laughed at people wearing bike helmets. Laws to promote public health are important, have had huge impacts, and should be respected. Lead paint is no exception.

Lead is most dangerous to developing children under the age of six. It can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, hearing problems, and headaches. Is this a risk we want to take with our children? No thank you.

I asked Professor Toffler his opinion as he has done work with the EPA on lead paint projects. In his opinion, lead paint is definitely something to worry about especially around windows. He also said it is going to be hard to find apartments listed as deleaded.

The Massachusetts Lead Law was designed to eliminate lead from homes with children under six. This law also applies landlords. Unfortunately the cost of deleading a home can be expensive so landlords will try and avoid renting to young families. This is discrimination and also illegal however it is widespread. We've made some calls to listings and been told the home is not deleaded. The conversation is always over immediately and we have not had a landlord yet volunteer to delead the space so our family could live there safely.

We will continue to try and find a home that has been deleaded. I'm sure we will eventually find one but will have to sacrifice many other things we would like to have. It can be tough for young families trying to find a home in an area where the housing stock is old. I won't even mention the costs.

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