Judge to appoint special master to fix NYCHA’s mold issues

Dec 15, 2015
Thanks to : Rosalba Rodriguez
Deputy Director of Northern Manhattan Office
Office of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer
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Judge to appoint special master to fix NYCHA’s mold issues
A federal judge, fed up with NYCHA’s inability to abate toxic mold in its aging apartments, has agreed to appoint a special master to enforce a two-year-old agreement to fix the problem.
Manhattan Federal Judge William Pauley Tuesday granted a request by tenants to bring in an outside monitor to make sure the authority remediates “simple” cases of mold within seven days and “complex” mold problems within 15 days.
“The appointment of a Special Master appears warranted,” Pauley wrote in granting the request. “The failure to remediate mold and excessive moisture jeopardizes the health and welfare of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.”
The judge rejected a request by the tenants’ lawyers at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice to impose a penalty of $10,000 per apartment where mold returns after NYCHA claims it fixed the problem.
In his 8-page decision, Judge Pauley blasted NYCHA for its “indifference” in addressing the dangerous problem.
“NYCHA has been out of compliance with the Consent Decree from the day it was entered by this court,” he wrote.
“NYCHA’s justifications for its failure to comply are inadequate, and the attitude of NYCHA officials appears to be one of indifference.”
Pauley noted that no top NYCHA official bothered to show up at the last court hearing, and in his order Tuesday Pauley wrote that “because the health and general welfare of hundreds of thousands of NYC public housing tenants is a matter of great public importance” he will require a “senior policy-making NYCHA official” attend all future court appearances.
Two years ago this week, NYCHA signed off on a consent decree with housing advocates and lawyers who brought suit alleging that NYCHA’s failure to clean up its persistent mold problem was violating the rights of tenants who suffer from asthma.
In agreeing to the consent decree, NYCHA vowed to aggressively eradicate mold across its 328 developments. But the plaintiffs who filed the suit, the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a conglomerate of church groups pressing for housing reform in New York City, say in dozens of cases NYCHA only painted over the mold and it soon returned.