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Bill would require NYCHA to report legal expenses after arsenic scare

NYCHA released now-detracted report indicating concerning levels of Arsenic

September 15, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, in conjunction with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, introduced legislation on Wednesday which requires NYCHA to report any outside legal expenditures.

The tenants of Jacob Riis Houses in the Lower East Side are pursuing legal action against NYCHA after it was reported that the complex’s water supply was contaminated by arsenic on Friday, Sept. 9. The test results showing arsenic were detracted by both the city and the testing company the same day. 

The bill – originally introduced in 2019 – requires NYCHA to report to the mayor’s office, city council and the public, among other important information: 

  • The amount allocated and the amount expended by such authority on legal fees for counsel services not provided by in-house counsel, by legal matter and by property; 
  • The name of any outside law firm retained;  
  • The scope of such services provided by such provider, including the underlying cause of action, the amount paid by such authority for such services, and the date or timeframe during which such services were rendered
New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Craig Ruttle/Pool via AP, File

“We already know, we have already seen, the human cost of NYCHA’s longstanding systemic failures and untenable conditions,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. 

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“This legislation will provide the public with a sense of the financial cost of those failures and an accounting for legal actions NYCHA is involved in which extend beyond the scope of in-house counsel. With NYCHA facing a funding crisis, it is essential to have transparency about these kinds of expenses in order to identify patterns and prevent avoidable damage or unnecessary waste.”

“It is critically important that NYCHA be held accountable for its shortcomings, and that accountability should include making the public fully aware of the legal costs it incurs due to its missteps,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. 

“NYCHA must use its resources wisely. That means spending money on housing repairs and construction–not on expensive lawyers. Passage of this bill should spur NYCHA to meet its obligation to deliver quality affordable housing to its tenants.”

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