Friday, July 20, 2012

Shoddy Work Continues at the "Lead Paint House"

Post, bottom image, and second photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman, top photo from the @daviss Twitter feed.

The "Lead Paint House" at 1406 Girard Avenue North was widely discussed on North Talk and the Johnny Northside blog.  The conversation spilled over into one of the break times at Old Highland's Window Restoration Boot Camp.  Participants were baffled by why NHS or their contractor would do such a thing.  None of the experts there believed such notification was necessary to comply with federal guidelines.  But at least that spray paint can be fairly easily undone--if you were going to restore the original siding in a lead-safe manner, it'd come off anyway.  Another neighbor pointed out something worse.

She saw them taking out a window that didn't open or close (and therefore was not a friction surface in need of lead paint remediation in the same way as other windows) and replace it with a non-historic and wholly inappropriate disposable window that doesn't even fit the opening.  I would have blogged about this maneuver a while ago, but needed to verify it for myself.  And the photo that started it all has that area blocked off by a tree.

So I made my way over to the house recently to record the visual offense.  Now I don't know who made the call to rip out the window and replace it, Northside Housing Services or Gary Kittleson, the contractor.  But the contractors didn't even put a similarly-shaped window back.  Instead, we have plywood around the edges, just like some of the worst slumlords on the northside have employed.

But maybe the window was like that before, right?  NHS has been so great that we ought to give them some slack.  Well here's what was there prior to this work:

This, if my eyes and historical research are correct, is an ocular window.  It's one of those little details, like the proper siding on a house, or a variety of built form designs, that you might not really notice when you're going through a neighborhood.  But your brain does.  It picks up on these cues and tells you, whether you realize it or not, if you like house and the neighborhood.  A good developer and a good contractor know these things, and plan their work accordingly.  NHS and Kittleson failed to do so here, on multiple levels.

And yes, I know NHS has done a lot of good for the northside.  They administer the Jordan Advantage down payment assistance, which I used to help qualify for my new home.  And my experience with that was quite good.  But there's no good excuse for this kind of substandard work, especially when it's subsidized by taxpayer and foundation dollars that are supposed to be used to improve our community.  Maybe it's time for NHS to let someone else handle home rehab work, if this is the result we get.


  1. I bet someone saw a leaded glass window and thought, hey, I want that, replace it with a non-fitting window, who cares, some poor so-and-so is going to live here who doesn't deserve it anyway.

  2. Yup,

    I can get $30 for it down at Bauers and these poor dumb stupid slobs won't even miss it.

    Besides, The City will pay my labor to take it through a Federal Energy Efficiency Program.

    There is no oversight or long range community vision from the General Contractor (NHS) - because after these administrators pads their resumes with good deeds they will be off to better paying jobs in the public sector. If there were a vision for the community when planning affordable low income housing, they would know that these home owners will end up having to replace these vinyl windows again in less than 20 years.

    This makeshift repair looks so bad that this home and the community that depends on it's visual cues will probably never increase in value; so If I am still in business in 20 years there will surely be another public program that I can cash in on when all these windows start to fail!

  3. Any update on this?


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