At least 12,000 NYCHA apartments in Brooklyn may contain lead paint
Mosley ‘Appalled by the Deceit’
A recent lawsuit brought by the US Attorney of the Southern District was settled with a slap on the wrist and a city’s agency — NYCHA —promising to do better next time.
Meanwhile, children in some 12,000 Brooklyn NYCHA units may well be exposed to lead, according to the compaint filed in the Southern District of New York. Lead poisoning can lead to slurred speech, learning disabilities and slowed development.
Shockingly, the city tried to cover up the problem for years, failing to inspect apartments and falsifying paperwork.
A federal lawsuit settled earlier this month revealed that no one yet knows how many NYCHA children have lead poisoning, but the extent of the problem became more explicit over the weekend.
The city has offered the figure of 820, up from an earlier estimate of 19 — but the city Department of Health (DOH) is only able to investigate a fraction of the cases.
According to the lawsuit, DOH’s information is incomplete “because it is based solely on reports from medical professionals who have tested children for lead, and does not include the many children living at NYCHA who have not been tested.”
A large percentage of the affected children are thought to live in Brooklyn. The lawsuit disclosed lead paint in roughly thirty percent of NYCHA’s apartments. NYCHA has determined that at least 12,000 of its Brooklyn apartments may contain lead paint.
Assemblymember Walter Mosley said on Monday that he was “appalled by the deceit and mismanagement at the hands of those who are entrusted with our lives.” Mosley represents Fort Greene, where the Ingersoll housing project is located.
Mosley, a parent himself who grew up in Crown Heights and Clinton Hill, became involved when he learned about a woman in the project testing high for lead. (She wishes to remain anonymous.)
“I can’t imagine seeing my own children sick from lead poisoning, and public housing tenants deserve no less respect than anyone else,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle on Monday.
“I was raised in Mitchell Lama and have been raising my own family in Mitchell Lama housing, so being in safe, public-sponsored housing can be done,” he said, adding, “We owe more to our children.”
Mosley is calling for additional oversight by the City Council.
In addition, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said he plans an investigation.
“It is horrifying that the Department of Health kept this information under wraps and it is outrageous that the city continues to justify and minimize this scandal,” Stringer said in a statement.
Housing Projects Spread Across Brooklyn
NYCHA housing projects have an enormous footprint in Brooklyn. There are 87 developments scattered across the borough, cheek-by-jowl with historic brownstone districts like DUMBO and Fort Greene, and overlooking world-class water views at Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
NYCHA has determined that at least 12,000 of its Brooklyn apartments may contain lead paint.
In a May 2016 email, a NYCHA executive advised that “there [were] only 33 paint[ers]/paint supervisors trained in lead safe practices” working in Brooklyn developments, according to the lawsuit.
DOH began using the CDC’s lower 5 microgram lead standard in January while the city was reaching a settlement with the federal government, as opposed to an older 10 microgram cut off.
De Blasio: Lead Cases Down Over the Years
As a result of the lawsuit, the city has agreed to a monitor of NYCHA.
In an interview on NY1 on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city has reduced the amount of elevated lead levels in kids across the city, “by about 90 percent in just about a decade.”
“What used to be tens of thousands of cases a year is now a few thousand cases a year,” he said, adding that NYCHA cases are “an absolute minority of the cases.”
Prioritizing children aged 6 and under, “We’re going to send inspectors out to inspect that home, again whether public or private, and to make sure there is remediation. We’re also going to track each child through our Department of Health and Health and Hospitals to make sure they’re getting the care they need,” he said.
A investigation into lead poisoning by Reuters last November found that 5,400 city children tested with an elevated blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter or higher in 2015.
The areas where the most children tested high were in Brooklyn, including neighborhoods with increasing real estate values, where construction and renovation can “unleash the toxin.” The worst spot was in a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood, Reuter’s reported.
Updated on 7/3 to reflect the individual in the Ingersoll Houses rcently discovered to have lead poisoning is a woman, not a child.
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