Earlier this summer, the New York City Housing Authority — otherwise known as NYCHA — came under fire when federal prosecutors filed a complaint claiming the agency failed to comply with several important lead-paint regulations. In fact, the federal government went as far as to accuse housing officials of misconduct and outright lies when managing the nation’s largest public housing system, which serves at least 400,000 New Yorkers.
While NYCHA ultimately admitted that it failed to meet its obligations to inspect for hazardous leads, according to a New York Times report, this admission has done little to reassure much of the public that this grave problem will be rectified soon.
Just how big is the problem — and is anyone responsible?
As reported by The New York Times, NYCHA already acknowledged in June that 92 of its 325 developments has lead paint present. Mayor de Blasio also said at the time that the city will inspect the 130,000 units that may contain lead, which is more than double the previously-disclosed estimate of only 50,000 units. One of the goals of this broad inspection is to create a database of those buildings that contain lead paint.
Even though NYCHA has already chosen to settle with the federal government, it is important to point out that many individual victims are also filing their own claims.
In fact, just last week a federal District Court judge for the Southern District of New York held that Mayor de Blasio and other city officials must face a lawsuit seeking accountability for the mistakes that resulted in children being exposed to, and poisoned by, lead paint.
While it remains to be seen whether this case will result in damages for the victims, it is nevertheless an important first step for the families who were put at risk by the actions of NYCHA.