NYCHA head testifies about misleading lead inspection reports

Shola Olatoye appeared before City Council for first time

The agency’s Shola Olatoye at Howard Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn (Photo by Sasha Maslov)
The agency’s Shola Olatoye at Howard Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn (Photo by Sasha Maslov)

New York City Housing Authority Chair Shola Olatoye and other senior de Blasio administration officials testified on Tuesday about filing misleading documents on mandatory lead inspections at public housing complexes.

Last month, the city’s Department of Investigation released a report saying NYCHA submitted false paperwork to the federal government claiming it had conducted lead-paint inspections when the work, in fact, hadn’t been done for years. Officials appeared before the City Council on Tuesday for the first time since the report, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Signing the forms at that time was a mistake,” NYCHA head Shola Olatoye said. “My regret is that we didn’t tell people more, sooner.”

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Olatoye testified that she informed U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials that the city wasn’t in compliance July or August of 2016. She said she told other HUD officials in September 2016, but a month later filed the false reports.

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office is investigating health and safety issues at NYCHA. In November, Reuters published findings from a two-year investigation, which included that 10 percent of small children in the city had elevated lead levels in their blood during an 11-year study period.

Despite these issues, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection has only seen a mild increase in requests for lead testing kits, as The Real Deal reported Tuesday. [WSJ]Kathryn Brenzel