NYCHA bigs OKd lead ‘lie’

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY GREG B. SMITH

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).

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