This week the City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) announced the results of an investigation into the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) compliance with mandatory safety inspections for lead paint and other safety hazards.
According to the report, NYCHA submitted false documentation to HUD in 2013, 2014 and 2015 verifying that visual safety inspections had been performed at 55,000 apartments when in fact they had not been. In July of this year, NYCHA notified HUD it had not complied with certain requirements related to lead-based paint and was working to ensure full compliance.
To be sure, these are serious infractions. Failure to inspect lead paint in public housing represents a significant health hazard that cannot be condoned, especially given the risks they present to children. Plain and simple, it’s unacceptable, and public housing residents deserve far better.
To her credit, NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye has not dodged responsibility. She must now explain how these lapses in compliance occurred, what she intends to do about it, and why the public should have confidence in her ability going forward to lead the largest public housing system in the nation.
In our view, Chair Olatoye has been very good for NYCHA. She has set NYCHA’s course over the next 10 years, instituted major management and administrative reforms, and substantially increased resident engagement in the process. Without reservations, CSS supports Chair Olatoye and believes she deserves a chance to address the lead-paint issue and reclaim what has otherwise been an excellent record as head of NYCHA.