NYCHA Hopes New Tools Can Help Them Bust Mold in Apartments, but Residents Slam Authority's Efforts
For years, the city's public housing authority has been grappling with how to get mold out of residents' apartments. It was the subject of a class action lawsuit and is now overseen by a court-appointed monitor. City officials say they are trying to fix it, but with federal budgets cuts on the horizon, it might be even more difficult. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Top officials from the Housing Authority gave us a sneak peek at their latest efforts to fight off mold.
"We are here to show you the new program Mold Busters, in which we are making use of technology and training to incisively attack the real causes of mold," said Deborah Goddard, executive vice president of NYCHA.
We went upstairs to a recently vacated apartment, and headed straight to the bathroom.
"You put small holes where the cameras can fit, and then you will be able to see if, in fact, you have issues behind the wall," said Janet Abrahams, senior vice president of NYCHA.
They break out new tools for their new program, Mold Busters. One detects ventilation. Another detects humidity.
One of the tools they will be using is called a moisture meter, and it essentially detects the amount of water in something. You can put it on your hand, and you can see it detects a high level of moisture, but when you put it on the wall, it looks like everything is OK.
That's not the case in apartments across many Housing Authority properties.
"The answer that goes, 'Yeah, there is a lot of mold, but we can't afford to do anything about it' is simply unacceptable," said Steven Edwards, an attorney representing NYCHA residents.
Residents packed a community center at Red Hook Houses on Tuesday morning to slam the authority's efforts.
All of these new gadgets are not good enough, they say. They are only going to a small slice of developments.
Housing Authority officials say finances beyond their control are getting in the way.
The president's budget proposal has offerred massive budget cuts for the authority. That could make it that much more difficult to deal with the systemic issues at its buildings, which breed mold.
At Wagner, one official warns, it may only get worse.
"It is the surest route to a path that makes our units uninhabitable," Goddard said.
So it can destroy public housing?
"Yeah," Goddard said.