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NYC public housing residents experience increased risk of mold exposure

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is supposed to monitor and repair mold growth in public housing facilities, but private management of public housing facilities is stripping tenants of these protections.

Tawana Myers, a public housing resident, suffers from severe asthma. On occasion, toxic black mold grows in her bathroom because the air vent is broken. She wipes down the mold and files a request with NYCHA to repair the problem so that it won’t happen again.

“Over there, it gets black and I have to wipe it down and I can’t live like that,” Myers said, as she pointed to a corner of her tub. “They do a quick patch-up. They have a porter come in, they put a Band-Aid on it.”

Currently, Spring Creek, the Brooklyn-based NYCHA development that Myers lives in, is being watched by an independent federal monitor. This monitoring is part of the city’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to protect public housing residents from mold exposure. As per a legal settlement, the building is also being monitored by a federal judge to ensure that toxic black mold is removed from apartments.

In the not so distant future, those protections will vanish.

Why? – Because the Linden House, where Myers lives, has been added to a long list of public housing complexes that are set to be turned over to private management companies. The move is part of Bill de Blasio’s – the mayor of New York City – signature effort to repair crumbling public housing facilities with Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), a program that has received a lot of backlash.

There’s a major loophole in the monitoring agreement and the mold court settlement that protects public housing facilities. The agreement and the settlement both explicitly state that when a development goes over to RAD, oversight by the court and the monitor is terminated.

Thousands of public housing tenants have already lost mold protections, and soon, thousands more will, too.

At the time of writing, more than 5,100 apartments in eight NYCHA developments have been transferred to RAD. They have all been removed from monitor and court oversight. An additional 4,343 apartments will be handed over to RAD by the end of June, and by the end of 2020, an additional 5,908 follow suit.

In all, 62,000 apartments – about one-third of NYCHA’s apartments – are supposed to be removed from the mold lawsuit and monitoring protections by the time de Blasio’s RAD conversions are completed in the year 2028. Gregory Russ, the NYCHA Chairperson, a big proponent for RAD, recently stated that he would be open to adding even more apartments to the program. As you can imagine, the loss of this monitoring can have serious repercussions, as thousands of people may be exposed to mold growth and the health problems that it can cause.

Mold Inspection & Testing New York City has performed countless mold assessments throughout the city. We strongly recommend that Mayor de Blasio and NYCHA put protections into place for residents of mold testing to ensure the safety of public housing residents. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 917.300.0098.

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