GETTING THE LEAD ON LEAD?: In order to meet Federally-mandated deadlines to inspect 135,000 apartments for lead paint by the end of this year, the Housing Authority must assess 5,000 to 7,000 units per month. But so far, NYCHA has inspected about 28,000 apartments, with more than half of the 21,000 units that have had results come back testing positive for the hazardous material.

The beleaguered Housing Authority, which must inspect 135,000 apartments for lead-paint by the end of this year, has so far assessed less than a quarter of its backlog, according to data published Dec. 31.

Last April, the de Blasio administration kicked off the inspections using advanced X-ray equipment that can see through multiple layers of paint. Although it anticipated that the inspectors would perform about 5,000 to 7,000 inspections each month, so far, NYCHA is averaging less than 4,000. The agency kicked off its initiative to a slow start, with just 1,740 units tested during the first month of inspections.

55% Came Up Positive

So far, NYCHA has assessed 28,109 apartments, or 21 percent of the units designated for inspection.  Among the 20,814 units that the agency has received test results for, just over half--11,487--have tested positive for lead. Additionally, NYCHA inspectors have attempted to inspect 35,578 other apartments, according to the agency.

“It is exceptionally complex work to test surfaces in every room of an apartment,” NYCHA spokeswoman Barbara Brancaccio said. “We are working closely with our city and Federal partners to stand up a proper inspection regime at NYCHA for the first time ever. It’s been ramping up: we’re now testing about 5,000 apartments every month and it will continue to increase.”

Children under 6 can develop serious health problems, including developmental delays, from being exposed to lead for long periods of time. Judith Goldiner, a Legal Aid Society attorney who handles NYCHA cases, told the New York Post that she was “concerned” about slow progress “given how dire lead is to young children.”

Not HA’s Only Worry

As part of a deal reached in late January 2019 among the city, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, NYCHA is facing deadlines to not only address lead paint but reduce the number of heating outages and speed repair times for broken heating equipment.

A Federal Monitor, Bart Schwartz, was also appointed after investigators determined that from 2012 through 2016, NYCHA did not perform required lead-paint inspections and falsely certified that it was in compliance with HUD rules.

In a report released last November, he stated that NYCHA had not made enough progress in addressing lead paint, and had expressed concern that it would not meet its deadlines. Additionally, the agency certified at the end of July that it was not in compliance with lead-paint regulations. NYCHA’s next certification is at the end of this month.

But the agency has shown signs of progress, including establishing procedures that clarify what supplies were needed for inspections, the Federal Monitor noted.

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