Skip to main content
U-M Poverty Solutions Logo U-M Poverty Solutions Logo


Back to publications

Detroit’s Lead-Safe Ecosystem

By Leonymae Aumentado

Download PDF of lead-safe case study analysis

Download PDF of directory of lead-safe stakeholder organizations in Detroit

Download PDF of lead-safe ecosystem map

Download PDF of accessible version of lead-safe ecosystem map


Lead poisoning is a concern in Detroit due to the prevalence of housing built before 1978 that is likely to contain lead-based paint. Black children and children from low-income families are more likely to live in older housing with lead-based paint due to structural barriers in accessing newer, safer housing, and so they are at a greater risk of lead exposure causing long-lasting damage to their growth and development, behavioral health, and physical well-being.

Poverty Solutions partnered with the City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department to identify organizations involved in Detroit’s lead-safe ecosystem engaging in lead poisoning prevention efforts and to identify best practices in the city’s lead-safe ecosystem relative to Cleveland, Ohio, and Buffalo, New York. This work resulted in the following resources:

  • A Lead-Safe Ecosystem Case Study Analysis, which identifies additional actions that would further strengthen Detroit’s lead-safe ecosystem
  • A series of Detroit Lead-Safe Ecosystem Maps, which shows the system of actors engaged in reducing the risk of child lead poisoning and the conditions that influence their actions, such as laws and housing conditions, and 
  • A Directory of Lead-Safe Stakeholders in Detroit, which lists key information for stakeholders involved in efforts to mitigate child lead poisoning, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and business associations. 

Key Learnings from the Lead-Safe Ecosystem Case Study Analysis

Learning from Cleveland and Buffalo’s lead-safe ecosystems, Detroit’s own ecosystem may be made more robust by establishing structures and mechanisms that encourage broad stakeholder involvement and provide a variety of resources, services, and supports to accommodate the breadth of stakeholders, while still fostering accountability of key stakeholders. A trusted actor that regularly convenes stakeholders and coordinates activities across the ecosystem is central to developing the communications and data sharing needed for progress. Additionally, certain features of Cleveland and Buffalo’s lead-safe ecosystems, such as organizational and individual capacity, and unified public messaging facilitate lead-safe progress in these cities.

Below are best practices for lead-safe ecosystems that have been gleaned from the case studies of the lead-safe housing work in Cleveland, Ohio and Buffalo, New York.


  1. A trusted actor managing the regular convening and coordinating the relationships and activities of actors across the lead-safe ecosystem
  2. Committee-based coalition structure for coordination between actors
  3. Engagement from actors representing all areas of the lead-safe ecosystem
  4. Variety of resources, services, and support, and centralized intake process for access
  5. Available and accessible data to better understand the extent of the issue and to develop, support, and evaluate lead-safe initiatives
  6. Effective mechanisms of accountability
  7. Action following community interest
  8. Focus on interim controls instead of full abatement

Next Steps

Preventing child lead poisoning is an issue that requires the involvement of many different organizations and groups across all sectors. Strong organizational and resource coordination is needed to eliminate lead hazards in Detroit’s building stock.

Lead-safe stakeholders can use the lead-safe ecosystem case study analysis, a series of ecosystem maps, and a lead-safe stakeholder directory to identify new partnerships and mobilize around lead poisoning prevention efforts, while residents can identify existing lead-safe services and resources in the city.

Direct Services and Resources

Detroit residents seeking direct services and resources to prevent or mitigate child lead poisoning can contact the following organizations:

For educational materials, testing and treatment referrals, and referrals to other programs related to lead hazard reduction and lead poisoning

Phone: (313) 924-4000


To schedule a lead test for your child, to access case management, including home visits from advocates and nurses, and to receive educational resources

Phone: (313) 876-0133

Provides diagnosis and treatment for children who have lead poisoning

Phone: (313) 745-KIDS

Connects residents to housing programs and services that help reduce paint-based lead hazards, like HRD’s Lead Safe Housing program if you live in an eligible ZIP code

Download PDF of lead-safe case study analysis

Download PDF of directory of lead-safe stakeholder organizations in Detroit

Download PDF of lead-safe ecosystem map

Download PDF of accessible version of lead-safe ecosystem map