At a recent news conference, New York’s Mayor learned that 9,000 NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) housing units need lead paint remediation. Earlier counts put the number at 3,000 units.
Removing lead paint should be a priority in the homes of young children, who are at the highest risk for life long health problems stemming from exposure. The jump in the number of households came about when NYCHA changed the way it counts households at risk.
The new number has drawn the attention of local media. One report comes from THE CITY in an interview with Bart Schwartz, who broke the story about the 9,000 units. Mr. Schwartz is monitoring NYCHA’s performance for the federal government. Read more at THE CITY: NYCHA’S Lead Paint Crisis Explodes as Known Number of Apartments Where Kids Risk Exposure Triples
Another features a tour of a home with high lead levels in Brooklyn and an interview with that Borough’s President. Read more at News12: Brooklyn mom calls for accountability after lead detected in son’s system, in walls of NYCHA apartment
NYCHA’s response? ” . . . our monumental efforts to overhaul our lead program have resulted in the nation’s most comprehensive assessment of public housing apartments presumed to have lead-based paint.”
The “most comprehensive assessment” is impressive, not to mention alarming. But children’s health means that nobody should rest on that particular laurel.
By now, you may be pleading crisis fatigue as the stories of NYCHA’s housing conditions and management practices continue to roll out. But we should remember that many people call NYCHA units home and that they have voiced concerns about health and safety issues for years. COVID-19, with its calls to stay home to be safe, isn’t improving their situation. They need to connect with a wider constituency to see those concerns are not just assessed, but addressed.