What to Know
- NYCHA Federal Monitor Bart Schwartz found there’s been 18 kids with elevated levels of lead in their blood so far this year.
- The report noted that NYCHA’s calculations of where children under six live are based on unreliable or out of date information.
- The report points to aging buildings, lack of staff, lack of training and skill in existing staff, and lack of accountability as root issues
NYCHA Federal Monitor Bart Schwartz released his first report Monday, and among other damning details, his team found there’s been 18 kids with elevated levels of lead in their blood so far this year.
In the first report since his appointment in February, the 81-page report outlined countless problems in the NYCHA buildings. One of the most damning sections was on lead, in which the Monitor found that 18 children were found to have elevated blood-lead levels in 2019.
“NYCHA management has been less cooperative with respect to lead paint,” the report said.
The report noted that NYCHA’s calculations of where children under six live are based on unreliable or out of date information and that a number of contractors “were not conforming to lead-safe work practices.”
“When we initially pressed on these and other issues, we met with resistance,” the report said. “Going forward, we have initiated a weekly ‘lead process’ meeting between the Monitor Team and NYCHA that we hope will resolve these problems.”
Other immediate concerns in the report included mold, heat and hot water, pests, and waste. Together, they paint a dark picture of the state of NYCHA.
“I grew up in Brooklyn and always have been proud to be a New Yorker,” Schwartz said in his opening letter. “But I am not proud of how our NYCHA residents have been treated.”
The report often points to aging buildings, poor data collection, lack of staff, lack of training and skill in existing staff, and lack of accountability as root issues.
“These first few months of our work have revealed NYCHA as an organization fraught with serious problems in structure, culture, and direction, and perhaps even worse,” Schwartz wrote. “Among the management challenges we see is the tendency to avoid personal responsibility and accountability.”
Schwartz found some hope in the appointment of Gregory Russ as the new chair of NYCHA.
“With stable leadership, it is hoped that NYCHA will move away from a culture of ‘management by crisis’ to a culture of longterm planning, transparency, and accountability,” he wrote. “I am looking forward to working with the new Chair.”
“The issues raised in the monitor’s first report were expected and we are already working with our federal partners to develop actionable solutions," said NYCHA General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo in response to the report. "NYCHA’s challenges are deep rooted and changes will not happen overnight, but with the full commitment of our dedicated staff, we are taking the necessary steps to transform the Authority, and to improve the quality of life for our residents.”