New York City Housing Authority fell behind on lead testing
their 328 public housing properties and put thousands
at risk for lead poisoning.
An ongoing investigation has discovered that New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) falsely verified lead inspections of thousands of apartments.
The investigation centers around NYCHA falsifying reports to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and confirming inspections of its 328 public housing properties. NYCHA is required to annually test properties suspected of containing lead paint; however, New York City Department of Investigation found that through 2012 and 2014, NYCHA only inspected these apartments every other year.
Lead paint exposure is known to cause cognitive, cardiovascular and nervous damage. The poisoning is cumulative - which is why reducing exposure in children is an even greater concern.
Subpoenaed documents and interviews with NYCHA employees dated to October 2015 suggest there are 4,702 likely contaminated apartments with children younger than 6 years old.
"Our continued cooperation with New York City has led us to review our compliance functions with regard to lead-based paint requirements. Our conclusion is that we have not been compliant with certain aspects of the lead-based paint certification and that is just simply not acceptable," Shola Olatoye, NYCHA Chairwoman, said in a recent press release.
According to NYCHA, the authority switched to a biannual inspection schedule in light of a massive work-order backlog and funding deficit. This internal decision put NYCHA out of compliance with federal regulations.
The investigation is still pending, but NYCHA Chairwoman Olatoye launched comprehensive re-inspection of at-risk properties - providing few details and no cost estimates, much to the consternation of New York City Controller Scott Stringer.
“As you know, exposure to elevated levels of lead can be extremely detrimental, particularly to the health and welfare of young children. That makes the admission of NYCHA’s failure to comply with regulations all the more disturbing,” Stringer said in a recent press release.
In hopes of remedying the funding issue, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recommended selling a portion of NYCHA’s properties for private development.
As it stands, thousands of families may be at risk of lead poisoning due to the oversight. A final report by the city Department of Investigation is expected some time later this month.
To learn more about lead poisoning, visit the EPA website. To learn more about lead inspection, visit Zack Academy’s lead homepage.