The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) failed to inspect apartments for lead paint for years but falsely claimed that it did, according to a new report that the city's Department of Investigation (DOI) announced Tuesday.
The bombshell report charges that NYCHA failed to conduct required annual inspections of apartments for lead paint over a four-year period, beginning in 2013, but submitted documents to the federal government claiming that it had.
"I feel bad for the elderly residents and people with kids that have to inhale this and deal with this. That is a shame," said Roxanne Reid, the former tenant association president of the Castle Hill Houses.
The findings involve required inspections of 55,000 apartments where lead paint could be present, including about 4,200 where young children live.
Ingesting lead paint chips can cause mental and physical problems, or even death.
"That stuff there, it could hurt our children," one resident in the Castle Hill Houses said.
The report charged that NYCHA continued submitting the false reports to the federal government even after its chairwoman, Shola Olatoye, was told that the inspections were not being done.
It was not NYCHA's first stumble on resident safety. DOI noted that NYCHA previously failed to test smoke detectors, inspect elevators, and ban violent criminals from its buildings.
"This is fourth time in less than two years that a DOI investigation has determined that there were systemic problems in NYCHA that put tenants in harm's way," Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters said.
DOI is recommending an independent monitor to ensure future compliance involving lead paint, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors.
In a statement, NYCHA spokesperson Jean Weinberg said, "NYCHA began addressing these issues more than a year ago in connection with the investigation by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District. Since the Housing Authority learned it wasn't in full compliance with lead-based paint regulations and reporting, it has taken steps to address the underlying issues. We owe our residents better, and we’ll take today's recommendations into careful consideration."
But residents in another Bronx complex told NY1 that inspectors only appeared Monday, a day before the report was released, to conduct lead inspections.
Castle Hill Houses resident said they were not surprised by the report, because request for repairs regularly go unanswered.
The ceiling in Patria Baez's apartment has been neglected for so long, spiders spin webs on it.
"In the years that I've been in this apartment, they haven't done any inspection, and I've been here for 45 years," said Baez, who lives in the Castle Hill Houses.
The possible signs of lead paint hazards are abound in the Castle Hill Houses.
Baez and other residents are not confident anything will change.
"It's something that we have to deal with ourselves," one resident said.
Poor living conditions that they say are all too common.