NEW YORK — A bombshell report released Monday depicts the lead problem inside New York City Housing Authority apartments as far worse than once thought.
“There are similarities in Flint, Michigan. One hundred thousand people were exposed to lead paint poison. In that case, it was in the water. We saw a public outcry. Here we are in New York, we have something worse. We have 400,000 tenants,” said Sen. Jeff Klein, among half a dozen state senators who released the findings.
The report says 79 percent of residents said NYCHA did nothing when lead paint was discovered in their apartments; 80 percent had children whose blood-lead levels have not been tested; and 54 percent had called NYCHA for repairs but have been waiting for more than a month.
Klein says it’s time for the state to step in. He's introducing legislation to have an independent monitor appointed immediately. Klein also says 311 should handle complaints. Right now, NYCHA complaints are fielded directly to NYCHA.
Monique Johnson, the Tenant Association President for the Throggs Neck Houses, says the reporting system is not working. She also has made a direct invitation to the mayor.
“I would like to publicly challenge Bill De Blasio and Shola [Olatoye], the chair of NYCHA, to stay in a NYCHA apartment for a month and you don’t need to pick where you stay," Johnson said.
Health Department Commissioner Mary Bassett said the lawmakers were wrong to compare New York to Flint.
"These officials are playing politics with public health," she said. "Comparing New York—a national success story in reducing lead exposure—to Flint is alarmist and wrong. Exposure rates among children in New York City has fallen 87 percent since 2005, and they are even lower among kids in public housing.”
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