Velázquez, Gillibrand Probe NYCHA on Recent Lead Reports, and COVID-19 Response

Every single New Yorker, no matter their income or race, deserves to live in safe, lead-free homes
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As New Yorkers prepare to spend more time indoors this winter, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have sent a letter to the head of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on the authority’s plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in public housing.

The lawmakers are concerned that substandard housing conditions have the potential to place residents at a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure and are asking NYCHA for a detailed plan of how the authority is using federal funding under the CARES Act to prevent outbreaks and take the necessary measures to keep residents safe. They are also requesting details on NYCHA’s strategy for ensuring that any new ventilation systems will meet the standards set by the CDC’s COVID-19 mitigation guidelines. The letter comes on the heels of a recent statement by NYCHA’s federal monitor that a significantly higher number than previously reported of NYCHA apartments with children under six might be exposed to lead risks.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is targeting our communities of color at higher rates and has left millions of New Yorkers disproportionately vulnerable to suffering from the disease,” said Velázquez. “Given the clear scientific correlation between poor housing conditions and respiratory illness, it is incumbent upon NYCHA to provide a clear and transparent plan to ensure residents remain safe and public health protocols are followed. Crushing this virus will require NYCHA to anticipate and respond to the heightened challenges that will arise this winter and I thank Senator Gillibrand for her partnership in fighting to ensure that our City’s public housing is safe for all its residents.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated NYCHA’s financial and managerial problems, and has put already vulnerable families with children and elderly members at increased risk,” said Senator Gillibrand. “New Yorkers deserve to know how NYCHA has used the funding it received through the CARES Act to keep residents safe and healthy throughout this pandemic. Every single New Yorker, no matter their income or race, deserves to live in safe, lead-free homes with proper ventilation. I will always fight to ensure that New Yorkers living in NYCHA housing are safe, especially as we head into the colder months and face a resurgence of COVID cases.”

A PDF copy of the letter is available online here.

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