public housing

Housing Authority Admits It Can’t Get the Lead Out

Jasmine Green, 21, who lives in the Queensbridge North Houses, said she was concerned about her 7-month-old daughter, Alayah, getting sick from lead, June 3, 2019.
Jasmine Green, 21, who lives in the Queensbridge North Houses, said she was concerned about her 7-month-old daughter, Alayah, getting sick from lead, June 3, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The New York City Housing Authority admits it currently doesn’t have the ability to properly inspect tens of thousands of apartments for lead paint — or rid homes of the toxic metal.

The concession came six months after NYCHA officials pledged to federal authorities it would thoroughly tackle the crisis that’s left more than 1,100 children poisoned since 2012.

NYCHA signed an agreement with federal housing officials in January to settle a pending lawsuit over dangerous living conditions. That pact brought in a federal monitor and required NYCHA to report back six months later on the state its lead paint cleanup.

In a July 31 filing sent to monitor Bart Schwartz and obtained by THE CITY, NYCHA said it hadn’t lived up to its promises on lead paint — and explained why.

In a terse two-page document, NYCHA General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo conceded the authority “lacks adequate procedures, IT (technology) controls, recordkeeping and/or quality assurance monitoring as to a number of (lead paint) abatement requirements.”

‘Particular Deficiencies’ Cited

Those issues applied both to performing required lead paint cleanup — and making sure lead abatement workers are properly trained and certified, Mustaciuolo wrote.

He singled out “particular deficiencies” relating to NYCHA’s ability to prepare reports and communicate with tenants. Mustaciuolo also admitted problems with NYCHA’s capacity to accurately pronounce apartments “clear” of lead paint after a cleanup.

The filing echoes some of the critiques of the agency detailed in Schwartz’ first quarterly report, released in July.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised NYCHA will inspect and, if necessary, clean up by the end of the year the 135,000 apartments presumed to contain lead paint. NYCHA, the nation’s largest public housing system, serves 400,000 New Yorkers living in 175,000 apartments.

Barbara Brancaccio, a NYCHA spokesperson, said Thursday the agency is working with the monitor and federal authorities to fix the problems before its next report is due at the end of January.

“NYCHA is addressing key shortfalls so that we can present a certification that is in accord with the agreement. We are encouraged by the progress we are making with our partners towards developing and implementing a compliant lead program,” she said.

A spokesperson for Schwartz did not immediately comment.

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