Since Bart Schwartz was installed as the federal monitor of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), he's been pretty quiet.
But that's changing pretty quickly.
Since Thursday, the top official at the housing authority and the monitor have been in a war of words, exchanging letters over the handling of removing lead paint hazards in NYCHA apartments. The monitor claimed the health and safety of children are at risk.
"Sending a letter that is pretty aggressive, I think is not helpful in terms of working together," New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who is interim chair of the city's public housing authority, said Monday.
It all started with this: In a letter last week, the monitor accused Garcia of misleading the City Council and the public during a hearing last month, omitting clear details on the issues that the agency is facing.
"As of May 6, NYCHA has corrected presumed lead paint failures in 2,336 apartments with a child under six, and attempted to remediate 223 apartments," Garcia said while reading from a statement during the council testimony May 7.
Garcia fired off her own letter Friday, claiming Schwartz's statements were "unfortunate" and "misguided." She repeated the sentiment to our camera Monday.
"I think I was straightforward, providing an update on where we were, as we work to come into compliance with these very aggressive timetables," Garcia said. "We have continued to provide him with draft action plans, draft evidence and documentation, but we really haven't received any feedback."
Just hours before, the monitor sent a second letter, demanding NYCHA publicly release a new plan that it developed last week to fix its lead paint problems. That plan showed NYCHA was still out of compliance with lead paint regulations, and it had recently failed to conduct timely follow up testing with dust wipes after removing potential lead paint hazards in 64 percent of apartments with small children.
"This is very soon into a process, that for me to say we were fully compliant as of May 31 is a bit on the aggressive side," Garcia said. "This is going to take longer than that."
The city is expected to select a permanent NYCHA chairperson soon.
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