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Public Advocate calls for NYCHA head to step down after lead paint scandal

NEW YORK — Public Advocate Letitia James called for a change in leadership at the city’s Housing Authority just days after a report emerged showing the agency failed to inspect for lead in paint at thousands of apartments.

The problems started in 2013, a Department of Investigation report shows. The inspections were not done for 55,000 apartments since then. NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye told PIX11 she believed the agency was doing the work. But James believes Olatoye needs to leave after meeting with her.

“It has become clear to me that it is time for sweeping operational changes, independent monitoring, and transparency at the City’s Housing Authority,” she said. “Most importantly, it’s time for new leadership and a fresh start at NYCHA.”

James called the failure to inspect for lead paint and the false reporting about the inspections “unacceptable.”

“Every man, woman, and child who calls a NYCHA apartment unit home deserves to live in safe, decent conditions and the City must do everything in its power to ensure that these residents are protected,” she said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio defended Olatoye on Twitter. He praised her for “turning NYCHA around” and said she isn’t going anywhere.

“She didn’t create the agency’s shortcomings — she’s the one I trust to fix them,” he said. “It’s a cheap stunt to call for her to step down, one that puts political ambition ahead of the urgent needs of NYCHA’s residents.”

PIX11 has reached out to NYCHA for comment.