NYCHA’s lead fix a flop: att’y

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

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.