NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than 1,000 New York City children living in public housing have tested positive for lead poisoning, according a report from the city’s Department of Health.
Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio says his predecessor’s administration is to blame for the growing scandal. The cracked, peeling, rotted out paint is all-too-often the norm in NYCHA projects. What’s also been the norm, ever since the city admitted to lying about actually doing lead paint testing, is underplaying how many children in public housing have been affected.
When the scandal first surfaced, the mayor said only 17 children had tested positive for lead poisoning — a far cry from what the city is admitting now.
In July, the city quietly revealed there were 820 positive lead tests since 2012. Now, they’re saying it’s 1,160. The shame-faced mayor pinned the blame on former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday.
“Very, very sadly had lead inspections continued as they were supposed to in the previous administration we would not be having this conversation,” de Blasio said on WNYC Friday.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reports, it’s fair to say lead inspections stopped in 2013 when Bloomberg was in office. It’s also fair to say it’s the de Blasio administration, and only the de Blasio administration, that hasn’t been forthcoming about the number of children affected.
“The administration’s inability to tell the truth never ceases to amaze me,” Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) said. “The administration has been presenting the public with alternative facts about the level of lead exposure in public housing.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett says she regrets the “swirl of numbers and the confusion that swirl has generated.” It’s no wonder that during Wednesday’s Democratic primary debate Governor Cuomo called NYCHA a “national disgrace.”
Residents of the city’s public housing still think the city is holding back.
“They’re still trying to cover up and still trying to cover their tracks because they know now they’re in trouble,” Kay Miller of the Chelsea Houses said.
“There’s probably kids that haven’t even gotten tested yet,” Chelsea Houses resident Kenneth Taylor said. “I hope so, but I don’t think so.”
The mayor is now vowing to test every single NYCHA apartment using X-ray technology to get beneath layers and layers of paint. The City Council plans to hold hearings on the dangers of lead paint next month.