First, it was Flint, Michigan Now, it is the largest landlord in the country
If you are not already aware or up-to-date, you need to know the facts about Lead regulatory enforcement and Lead poisoning litigation because Lead-Based Paint jury awards are on the rise again! As the largest affordable housing provider in the country, NYCHA had an obligation to comply with several Lead-Based Paint regulations, one of which is HUD’s Lead Safe Housing Rule (24 CFR Part 35), as do ALL housing providers who receive federal HUD subsidy. Within this rule are numerous requirements, including annual Lead-Based Paint condition visual assessments, bi-annual Lead-Based Paint risk assessments, resident notifications, Lead safe work practices training, etc. Unfortunately, not only did NYCHA ignore some of the requirements of the rule, the Executive Director and her staff lied about their compliance efforts. The Executive Director was required to sign-off on the following compliance statement #17, “The PHA will comply with the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, and 24 CFR Part 35“. This statement is all encompassing, making very clear what landlords and property managers are required to do to be compliant. After signing off and stating that compliance was being done as required, it was discovered that NYCHA was NOT doing its annual Lead-Based Paint Hazard Visual Assessments in all subsidized units. During this period of investigation, HUD Washington lowered the Blood-Lead Level of concern, known as the “Reference Value” to 5ug/dl, also now, indirectly referred to as Lead-Poisoned. So while HUD’s new regulatory modifications made the rules more stringent, the largest affordable-housing landlord in the country was busted for not protecting its residents because it was not even meeting the regulations that federal law already had in place. NYCHA’s non-compliance sends another national ripple and a heighted sense of awareness about the lack of Lead-Based Paint regulatory compliance nationally, especially within federally subsidized and older housing stock. First, it was Lead in water, and now it is Lead-Based Paint in housing units. What is next? Failure to comply with regulations to protect us from Lead in dust or soil where we build? As a nationally recognized Lead-Based Paint expert, I believe, if you own older property and you are not compliant, you will be at much greater risk to liabilities that could have been avoided! Lead-Based Paint removal/abatement/safe work practices can be expensive, as can Lead-Poisoning litigation, but Lead-Based Paint hazard management DOES NOT HAVE TO BE difficult! Lee E Wasserman, is a 25 year Lead-based Paint subject expert and president of LEW Corporation.