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Lead paint protocols skirted by city in Section 8 properties

The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development plans to reinspect more than 200 units by October.

Due to failure to follow federal lead paint

Due to failure to follow federal lead paint inspection protocols, the city will reinspect common areas in 2,300 Section 8 buildings with a child under 6 years old. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / Pramote2015

The city released a memo Tuesday stating that it had not fully abided by federal protocols for handling lead paint hazards in Section 8 properties, and as a result, would reinspect all such buildings with a child under 6 by the end of November.

In the document, the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development said it has not always assumed peeling paint contained lead in older buildings or required owners to use safe work practices while remediating such spots.

HPD said it discovered the lapses during a top-to-bottom review of lead risks in its programs.

The department said it informs all private owners who accept Section 8 — a federal rental subsidy — about their obligations when leases are executed and inspects them biennially. Since 2016, HPD has identified five instances where a child under 6 had an elevated blood lead level and health inspectors determined there was a lead paint risk in their Section 8 unit. Corrections have been made in three of those apartments, and the other two — which received orders to abate hazards in August — are on schedule to be remediated, HPD said.

The department said concerns in those five apartments would have been present even if the city was fully abiding by federal regulations.

HPD said it has been adhering to the city’s lead law, which it described as “stringent.”

“New York City has the strongest lead regime in the country, and HPD is committed to rigorously enforcing those laws and regulations to ensure that residents have the protections they need and deserve,” HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer said in a statement. “We will continue to examine all of our programs and take swift action to improve, where needed, our efforts to drive lead exposure in our city even lower.”

HPD said it would send letters to all affected households, and reinspect all Section 8 buildings with a child under 6 that were constructed before a federal ban on lead paint.

The memo noted that HPD had already reinspected 15 apartments in one- or two-family homes, would re-examine another 186 units in larger residences by the end of October and would revisit the common areas in 2,300 buildings by the end of November.

Beyond assuming peeling paint contains lead and instructing owners to take precautions while remediating it, HPD said it had to execute a memorandum of understanding with the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to ensure the two agencies appropriately shared information, and that the Section 8 team is poised to revoke the subsidy, if hazards are not addressed.

HPD said it had communicated with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development about the lapses.

A HUD spokeswoman did not immediately respond when asked if the city risked losing federal funding over the lapses.

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