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Mold growth a major concern in New York City’s public housing

Indoor mold growth has always been a problem in New York City, but since Super Storm Sandy, the problem has intensified. A Brooklyn advocacy group is asking for a solution.

The community development program manager for Brooklyn’s Red Hook Initiative has been complaining about mold growth in New York City’s public housing. “You can feel mold as soon as you walk into an apartment. It’s almost like the air is heavier,” she said.

Ever since Super Storm Sandy battered the area back in 2012, residents living in the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, one of the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) developments that was impacted the most severely by the storm, have been forced to live with worsening mold in their homes. Despite the increasing problem, the residents have received little to no help from NYCHA.

A local youth development organization, the Red Hook Initiative (RHI), conducted a survey to assess the mold conditions in the housing complex. The residents of 280 units were surveyed, and of those who participated, 94% said that they had experienced leaks or mold growth in their homes at some time. Forty percent said that they were currently dealing with mold growth in their apartments; prior to the hurricane, about 34% of residents living in the complex were dealing with mold growth.

“Sometimes you can see the black mold spores covering the walls like paint. Sometimes it’s concentrated under the site of a leak,” McBride said. Exposure to mold growth can cause serious health problems and McBride is concerned about residents’ health. More than half of those who responded to the survey said that they were experiencing mold-related illness, particularly asthma, which seems to be largely affecting children who live in the complex. Sustained exposure to mold can worse health problems. About 24% of the residents who live in public housing facilities in Red Hook suffer from asthma, while only about 8% of the rest of those who live in the 11231 zip code are asthmatic.

Mold growth is found in all of the NYCHA complexes throughout the five boroughs (328 in total). It’s a problem that has been raising concerns for years. A tenants’ advocacy group filed a class-action lawsuit against NYCHA in 2013. The group called for the housing authority to take a more proactive approach to combating mold growth. It also set a timeline for NYCHA to respond to concerns issued by residents. NYCHA agreed to a settlement. Residents are now entitled to simple repairs, which must be completed within seven days after filing a complaint; complex repairs must be repaired within 15 days. NYCHA must also follow-up after the repairs have been made to determine the efficiency of the repairs within 60 days.

Mold Inspection & Testing New York City has years of experience performing mold assessments in the NYC area. We strongly urge the NYCHA to have regular mold tests performed in housing complexes to ensure the safety of residents. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 917.300.0098.

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