The New York City Housing Authority submitted false documentation to the federal government saying it was in compliance with federal laws requiring inspections for lead paint — even though it failed to conduct those inspections for four years, the Department of Investigation said Tuesday in a blistering report.
“DOI’s investigation found that NYCHA failed to do critical lead safety inspections and then falsely certified that they were meeting these legal requirements,” DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said in a statement.
“This is the fourth time in two years that DOI has found NYCHA to be careless when it comes to tenant safety.”
The agency is recommending that the city appoint a monitor to ensure the inspections — affecting 55,000 apartments — are conducted going forward.
NYCHA stopped conducting annual apartment inspections for lead paint in 2013, but continued submitting documentation to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development saying it was in compliance with federal regulations, according to DOI.
“DOI shows that despite its senior staff being made aware that NYCHA was out of compliance with City lead laws in 2015, and its Chair, Shola Olatoye, being told in 2016 of non-compliance with both City and Federal rules, certifications were still submitted to the federal government,” the report says.
But Olatoye said the non-compliance issue was raised to HUD officials in a private meeting in 2016. DOI has not been able to confirm that.
During a DOI interview in October, 2016, Olatoye said she was aware that NYCHA was not in compliance with the HUD regulations, which she considered “obviously a management failure,” and thus that the certification was not accurate.
However, she stated that in August and September 2016, NYCHA had already disclosed that information to HUD both in a briefing document and orally.
DOI said those oral briefings were not a substitute for correcting the false documentation.