NYCHA bigs OKd lead ‘lie’
THE CITY Housing Authority falsely claimed for years that it had inspected thousands of apartments with potential lead paint hazards, according to a scathing new report.
The Department of Investigation charged Tuesday that top NYCHA executives — including Chairwoman Shola Olatoye — knew lead paint certifications were not accurate but continued to claim required inspections had taken place, the DOI report contends.
In response, NYCHA spokeswoman Jean Weinberg said the agency upgraded its protocols last year, after federal prosecutors began looking at how NYCHA maintains its apartments.
“Since the Housing Authority learned it wasn’t in full compliance with lead-based-paint regulations and reporting, it has taken steps to address the underlying issues,” Weinberg said.
NYCHA has 55,000 apartments that likely have lead paint, including 4,231 that are home to families with children under 6.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides NYCHA with most of its funding, requires annual visual inspection of all these apartments to ensure the lead paint isn’t posing a hazard.
Studies show that lead paint can cause brain damage in young children; it becomes hazardous when it chips and flakes on radiators and window sills, and is ingested. Since 2010, children in 17 NYCHA apartments registered high levels of lead in their blood.
DOI found that from 2012 through 2014, NYCHA stopped all annual inspections and didn’t do the required annual lead paint inspections of the 55,000 apartments into 2016.
NYCHA still claimed year after year in its “annual plan” that it had completed all required lead paint inspections.
Olatoye told the DOI she was unaware the authority was not in compliance until the spring of 2016. But the DOI found that months earlier, in October 2015, “certain senior NYCHA officials . . . did know that NYCHA was out of compliance.”
“In fact, one operations executive told DOI that if asked, he would have answered that NYCHA was not in compliance with applicable lead laws — but he was never asked,” the report states.
NYCHA boss Shola Olatoye (above) is under fire after a report found the agency falsely claimed to have inspected thousands of apartments for lead paint (right).