De Blasio knew of NYCHA lead problems as early as 2016

Mayor stands behind housing authority commissioner amid controversy

Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYCHA Commissioner Shola Olatoye
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYCHA Commissioner Shola Olatoye

Mayor Bill de Blasio knew the New York City Housing Authority was not complying with lead-inspection regulations since last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The city’s Department of Investigation released a report last week saying NYCHA submitted paperwork to the federal government falsely claiming it had conducted lead-paint inspections when the work, in fact, hadn’t been done for years.

De Blasio’s office said the mayor was first informed of “the possibility of non-compliance” in March 2016. The housing authority told City Hall it wasn’t in compliance with local laws in April 2016, and with rules under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in July, a de Blasio spokesperson told the Journal.

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The mayor said “operations executives” were responsible for the lapses, and on Friday two senior NYCHA officials resigned while another was demoted.

De Blasio spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolierie said, “As part of the agency’s response, NYCHA inspected every apartment with kids under 6 where there may have been lead paint in 2016 and will do so again by the end of 2017.”

NYCHA commissioner Shola Olatoye, whom de Blasio appointed in 2014, is facing criticism following the revelations. Public Advocate Letitia James called for her to resign, though the mayor said Olatoye is “turning NYCHA around” and “isn’t going anywhere.”

In its November issue, The Real Deal looked at how NYCHA has turned to the real estate industry to help keep itself keep afloat. [WSJ] – Rich Bockmann