IN THE District of Columbia, there are at least as many `D absentee-landlord rental properties as in Baltimore. But in Washington, lead poisoning is considered an education problem rather than an opportunity for a new mega-project.
In the District over the past six years, fewer than 20 children per year have been admitted to hospitals with lead poisoning; no children have been re-admitted. (In both Baltimore and Washington, there are about 20,000 screenings of youngsters every year.)
In contrast to Baltimore, much of the District's lead problem is in deteriorated, owner-occupied property, not in rental property. Washington still has rent control and an effective Rental Accommodation Bureau. Housing code enforcement is effective, and tenants are not reluctant to call for housing code inspections. Landlords who fail to eliminate housing code violations while their houses are vacant between tenants face a roll-back in rents and may find themselves owing tenants a fair amount of money. The fortunate result is that Washington's rental property tends to be encrusted in lead-free paint.