According to the Public Advocate for the city, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) chairperson was aware of problems with the agency’s inspections for lead paint at least a half-year prior to when she claims that she was notified.
During a recent City Council hearing, the chairperson found herself in the hot seat. The Public Advocate alleged that back in October of 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan asked the Housing Authority for details on lead poisoning cases and abatement efforts. At the same time, the feds informed the agency that they opened an investigation into “false claims” by the NYCHA made to housing officials for the federal government. The alleged false claims were made to secure funds for the agency.
The Public Advocate stated that this information “should have raised red flags.” The investigation focused on “violations of the federal False Claims Act relating to lead certification.”
The chairperson defended her agency, claiming that the notification the NYCHA received wasn’t narrow enough to alert them to the problems.
Despite her denials, officials at City Hall clarified the notice specifically mentioned the False Claims Act.
The Public Advocate questioned the honesty of the de Blasio administration, saying, “If the administration was served with a federal demand letter raising alarm over lead issues in 2015, how can we believe . . . (they) did not know about these issues until 2016 and beyond?”
Children exposed to lead paint in their formative years can experience devastating and irreversible neurological and other effects. If the agency officials tasked with maintaining premises free of lead paint were remiss in carrying out their duties, the affected children may be able to receive financial compensation from litigation regarding the exposure.
Source: New York Post, “City Council grills NYCHA chair over lead paint inspections,” Michael Gartland and Yoav Gonen, Dec. 05, 2017