Citing alarming new evidence that Housing Authority managers are erroneously telling tenants their units have no lead paint, tenant leaders Monday filed suit demanding NYCHA immediately re-inspect apartments.
Last week a tenant at Ingersoll Houses in Brooklyn says NYCHA Director of Intergovernmental Relations Brian Honan told her no apartments in that 1944-built development contain lead paint because it had all been "removed.”
Three days later a state Health Department inspector tested the tenant's apartment and — contrary to NYCHA's assurances — found lead paint all over the apartment.
"If they’re wrong about this one apartment, they could be wrong about thousands more,” said James Walden, the attorney who filed the suit. “If they've inspected within last three years and claimed they have no lead, we want them to re-inspect those apartments."
On behalf of NYCHA tenant leaders known was the Citywide Council of Presidents, Walden asked a judge Monday to order a mass re-inspection within the next 90 days. A hearing is set for April 17.
The Ingersoll results surfaced because the state began randomly testing NYCHA apartments for lead per order of Gov. Cuomo two weeks ago. The governor has been visiting decrepit city public housing units of late and loudly charging NYCHA with mismanagement.
A rep for the authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, NYCHA’s Acting General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo met with lawmakers in Albany Monday seeking design-build authority that would speed up NYCHA repairs.
Cuomo has promised $250 million more in state funds for NYCHA, but because of his concerns about the authority’s abilities to do the work quickly and efficiently, he wants the work supervised by a private contractor.
In talks with lawmakers, Mustaciuolo pushed back against any effort to install a monitor to oversee the agency.
"Monitors cost money and any dollar that the housing authority receives should go to improving living conditions," he said.
Mustaciuolo defended the agency's performance, saying that NYCHA had completed $2.2 billion in capital improvements over the past four years and that NYCHA staff is dedicated to improving conditions.
"The work that is being done there I find pretty remarkable," he added. "I am not suggesting there isn't room for improvement, there is always room for improvement and I think when you stop taking that position it is time for you to get out of government."