Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”), Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), and Andrew Wheeler, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), announced today the signing of an administrative agreement (“Agreement”) with the NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY (“NYCHA”) and the CITY OF NEW YORK (the “City”) requiring NYCHA, under the supervision of a federal monitor, to fundamentally reform its operations and remedy living conditions for its residents, including lead paint hazards, mold growth, pest infestations, lack of heat, and inadequate elevator service. The Agreement, which went into effect immediately and does not require court approval, resolves the United States’ claims against NYCHA detailed in the Complaint filed in United States District Court on June 11, 2018 (the “Complaint”), which will be dismissed without prejudice. The Complaint alleged that for years NYCHA had violated and was continuing to violate basic federal health and safety regulations, including regulations requiring NYCHA to protect children from lead paint and otherwise provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing. The Complaint further alleged that NYCHA repeatedly made false statements to HUD and the public regarding its lead paint compliance, and intentionally deceived HUD inspectors.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “NYCHA’s failure to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing is simply unacceptable, and illegal. Children must be protected from toxic lead paint, apartments must be free of mold and pest infestations, and developments must provide adequate heat in winter and elevator service. This Office has not wavered from its commitment to better living conditions for NYCHA residents. Today’s Agreement will improve the lives of the more than 400,000 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home. The Agreement goes beyond the prior proposed Consent Decree by providing strict, enforceable standards that NYCHA must meet by particular deadlines for the five critical living conditions, including requiring both the immediate remediation of lead paint in apartments with children under 6 years old and, over time, 100 percent abatement of all lead paint in all NYCHA developments, as well as a change in NYCHA leadership.”
HUD Secretary Ben Carson said: “This is a very positive outcome, one that I believe can bring meaningful change to living conditions of the many thousands of families who depend upon NYCHA for their housing. But there is still a lot of work to be carried out. We look forward to continuing what has been a productive working relationship with the Mayor and his team. HUD will continue to advocate for the hundreds of thousands of children, women, and men in New York City whose lives and livelihoods depend on having safe, fair, and affordable housing. They deserve nothing less.”
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said: “Under today’s agreement, New York City commits to provide the resources and institutional reforms needed to end NYCHA’s pattern and practice of endangering the health of children living in New York’s public housing. EPA will be vigilant and is prepared to reinstate our litigation should they fail to meet those commitments and continue to harm children by violating lead paint safety regulations.”
Based on NYCHA’s misconduct as detailed in the Complaint, the Secretary of HUD declared today that NYCHA is in substantial default of its covenant to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing. The purpose of the Agreement is to remedy the deficient physical conditions in NYCHA properties, ensure that NYCHA complies with its obligations under federal law, reform the management structure of NYCHA, and facilitate cooperation and coordination between HUD, NYCHA, and the City......