NYCHA’s lead fix a flop: att’y
RECENT inspections NYCHA ordered up in response to its lead paint crisis are inadequate and continue to endanger the young children who live in apartments the authority claims are “clean,” a lawyer for tenants alleges.
Following disclosures of NYCHA’s lead paint inspection failures, the housing agency brought in a firm last year to inspect some 8,900 apartments where children live and lead paint likely lurks.
The Daily News disclosed that for years, these inspections and the resultant cleanups were performed by untrained workers without proper certification in violation of federal regulations.
NYCHA insists the recent inspections are up to snuff, but in a new court filing attorney Corey Stern, who has sued on behalf of mothers whose children tested positive for lead poisoning, says otherwise.
“Insofar as the performance of even a cursory inspection may lead parents to believe their home has been ‘cleared’ of lead hazards, such deficient inspections may in fact place many children in even greater risk of harm than the abeyance of inspections altogether,” Stern wrote in a letter filed in Manhattan Federal Court late Wednesday.
Stern has filed a class action lawsuit against NYCHA and Mayor de Blasio, alleging that the authority put tenants in danger by failing to complete required lead paint inspections and abatements.
A November report by the city Department of Investigation found that NYCHA officials — including the current chairwoman, Shola Olatoye — falsely certified for years that NYCHA was performing all required inspections.
Last month, Stern convinced Federal Judge William Pauley to halt NYCHA’s ongoing inspections for lead paint until an independent expert he hired could observe.
Stern wrote that on Dec. 4 and 5, his expert, TRC Environmental Corp., followed NYCHA’s vendor during inspections of eight apartments and found the firm didn't follow industry standards for proper inspections.
The firm hired by NYCHA, ATC Group Services, looked only at the “readily accessible areas” of these apartments, failing to look behind furniture or check out the interiors of closets, Stern wrote.
The firm did not consistently produce notes and sketches of what they found, and did not use photos to document their observations, Stern’s expert said.
The letter filed Wednesday asked Pauley to hold a conference to address what Stern says is an inadequate response to a huge problem.
“The deficiencies observed by our experts are violations of industry standard for leadbased paint inspections and as such (NYCHA) continues to put young children in New York City public housing at serious risk,” the lawyer wrote.
On Wednesday a law firm retained by NYCHA filed papers in court asking Judge Pauley to dismiss the suit, arguing the suit does not belong in federal court because it charges NYCHA was in non-compliance with a local law requiring lead paint inspectionst.
The ATC Group and NYCHA did not respond to requests for comment.
NYCHA lead paint inspections may have done more harm than good by falsely reassuring tenants their homes were “cleared” of toxins, attorney warned.