Thousands more children face lead paint exposure in NYCHA apartments than originally thought, the housing authority has found.
In 2018, the authority found 3,000 apartments where children under 6 lived were contaminated with lead paint. However on Thursday, federal monitor Bart Schwartz revealed that number was actually 9,000.
Shwartz was appointed to oversee the nation’s biggest public housing authority when it was discovered the authority had failed to perform required lead paint inspections.
Shwartz said NYCHA reported the new figures last week after conducting a number of engagement campaigns with NYCHA residents to discern how many children under 6 lived in apartments.
“The effort reveals that a far greater number of children under six may be at risk of lead exposure than was thought just two years ago,” Schwartz posted on his website.
Lead paint exposure poses high risks of cognitive damage to children under the age of 6.
Brownsville mother Jonquella Wheeler, who lives in Van Dyke houses with her 10-year-old son Kaemel, said her son had been suffering the effects of living in a lead contaminated house for years.
She said doctors found high levels of lead in his system when he was just 2, and inspectors found lead paint on pipes in her apartment that are believed to be the cause.
“His motor skills, normal children developmental skills, his reading and comprehension,” were all affected, she said.
NYCHA has said it is aggressively tackling the issue and Schwartz acknowledged the authority was doing better under the new leadership and had made significant progress.
However, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the lack of care in one of NYCHA’s most fundamental responsibilities — ensuring the health and safety of our most vulnerable tenants — demanded legal accountability.
“Families deserve justice for the systemic crisis of mismanagement in the bureaucracy of our public housing,” he said. “I will never stop fighting for that justice, and I am grateful for the work of the NYCHA Federal Monitor in exposing the truth and laying out a path to real progress, which must include additional resources from our partners in Albany and Washington.”
He said the only way to get a real turnaround at NYCHA was through real-time, data-driven accountability and transparency of its asset management.
Comptroller Scott Stringer said every failure to protect children from lead exposure was outrageous and unacceptable, adding mismanagement and bureaucracy had let thousands of children fall through the cracks.
“We can’t keep failing to protect our kids. We need real management and accountability,” he said. “No amount of lead in a child’s blood is safe or tolerable — period. I won’t waver in my focus on this issue until we’ve done absolutely all that we can to eliminate the threat of lead paint from our city. Our children deserve nothing less.”
Make a Donation
BK Reader is brought to you for free daily. Please consider supporting independent local news by making a donation here. Whether it is $1 or $100, no donation is too big or too small!