Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Preventing Lead Poisoning Among Children in Buffalo

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

March 13, 2024


Western NY


In Progress



Buffalo suffers from the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in New York State and the country, largely because more than 90% of the housing stock was built before lead-based paint was banned.

Childhood lead poisoning can cause irreversible damage, resulting in issues with learning, development, and cognition. Lead poisoning affects communities of color and immigrant communities disproportionately. Children in Buffalo’s low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are 12 times more likely to be diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels than children who live in the city’s predominantly white neighborhoods. Refugee families, who make up a growing proportion of Buffalo’s population, are at a heightened risk. They are more likely to live in Buffalo’s substandard housing with lead exposure because they face limited affordable housing options and are unfamiliar with health and housing codes. Furthermore, language and cultural barriers and difficulties navigating health systems complicate the ability to mitigate lead exposure for refugee families. In 2024, NYHealth awarded Home HeadQuarters (HHQ) a grant to address high rates of childhood lead poisoning in Buffalo through community education, lead testing, housing remediation, and improved clinical follow-up.

Under this grant, HHQ will lead the Buffalo and Erie County Lead Safe Task Force. In 2023, the task force adopted a strategic plan to coordinate and deploy complementary community engagement and education, health care, early intervention, and code enforcement strategies. The task force partnered with Jericho Road Community Health Center, which serves many pediatric patients diagnosed with elevated lead levels. HHQ will expand upon Jericho Road’s Community Health Worker (CHW) program to facilitate health and social services for refugee and immigrant children with elevated lead levels. The program will connect children who test positive to a dedicated CHW who will help families navigate resources. CHWs will conduct home visits, offer case management, distribute lead safety cleaning kits, and assist with interpretation at home visits from Erie County Department of Health (DOH) inspectors. CHWs will also educate property owners about the harmful effects of lead, connect them to mitigation training through the Erie County DOH, and provide guidance on financing for lead remediation services. In addition, HHQ will coordinate a campaign to push for stronger rental housing regulations and increased resources for lead hazard remediation.