BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York Attorney General Letitia James visited Buffalo on Saturday to announce a lawsuit against a landlord who allegedly repeatedly violated lead hazard laws that caused lead poisoning in children.
The lawsuit is against Buffalo landlord Angel Elliot Dalfin, who owns and operates more than 150 single and two-family homes in Buffalo.
The lawsuit alleges that since 2013, from 22 of Dalfin's properties, dozen of children have been identified with elevated blood lead levels. Additionally, at least 63 of Dalfin's properties have been cited by inspectors for housing code violations.
According to James, these homes are predominantly in low-income communities of color, and there have been dozens of instances of lead poisoning in children due to the violations.
“It is as immoral as it is illegal that a landlord would knowingly expose families to lead poisoning, which disproportionately threatens the health and development of Black and brown children,” Attorney General James said.
The lawsuit was filed in Erie County Supreme Court and according to James' office, this investigation began in 2017.
Housing code violations Dalfin was cited for, according to James, includes conditions conducive to lead poisoning and chipping, pealing or deteriorating paint. The city and the county both have laws regarding lead hazards.
“Our children deserve to live in safe and healthy homes, not dangerous and poisonous ones," James said. "As Buffalo continues to have some of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in the country, my office will continue to hold bad actors responsible. Every family deserves to live in a home free of lead hazards, and I will work to ensure that happens.”
James' office says that lead paint is a problem in the Buffalo region and that it impacts children in communities of color more than children in predominantly white neighborhoods.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, 715 children under six years old in Erie County tested with blood lead levels between 5 and 9 µg/dL, and 415 children tested with blood lead levels of 10 µg/dL or higher.
Additionally, Erie County was the only county in New York that had children testing over 45 µg/dL in 2017, which is the level that requires medical intervention. Eight children tested with levels over 45 µg/dL.
The CDC recommends that children with blood lead levels over 5 µg/dL receive case management to make sure they do not get continued exposure and create a need for medical intervention.
James' office says that they also found other violations by the group since 2017, including:
- "Using shell companies to avoid complying with city rental registration requirements;
- "Failing to comply with city and state property management and real estate broker licensing requirements;
- "Conducting business in New York without authority to do so from the Department of State; and
- "Initiating evictions of tenants in lead-poisoned houses in violation of New York law."