NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Under a new law to help NYCHA residents dealing with mold in their homes, the city housing authority is required to tell residents what they can do if their complaints go unaddressed.
Leaks and water damage leading to mold is a reality for many NYCHA residents, CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported Friday.
Longtime NYCHA resident Dolores Harley Nesby says she’s had mold in her bathroom off and on for more than 20 years.
“All around the top of the tub, around the top of the paneling,” she told Dhillon.
When asked about NYCHA’s response, Harley Nesby said, “It’s not a matter of whether they come. It’s what they do when they get there, and they’re not doing a good job.”
Metro-IAF, a local church group, has spent years advocating to help residents like Harley Nesby.
Last year, a federal court instated a mold ombudsperson for NYCHA. But local officials say many residents are unaware.
“The mold ombudsperson has the authority to order NYCHA to make repairs. So, it’s an effective tool, but it’s only effective if residents use it and it’s only effective if residents know about it,” said Congressman-elect Ritchie Torres, who is finishing his term as a city councilman.
Torres gathered with church leaders in the Bronx on Friday to announce the passing of legislation to help those with mold complaints.
The law requires NYCHA to inform tenants that, if they do not receive a timely or adequate response, they have access to an ombudsperson.
Flyers, pamphlets, robocalls and emails will be used to inform tenants. NYCHA will also have to conduct public briefings for housing organizers and elected officials.
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“We see it as a public health crisis. There’s a connection between health and housing, and residents have a right to healthier housing,” said Torres.
Harley Nesby recently had repairs done in her bathroom after she called the ombudsperson call center. She hopes the new law informs her neighbors, so they can also get the help they need.
“I just hope they utilize the information and don’t get intimidated, because this is about our health,” said Harley Nesby.
NYCHA referred us to City Hall on the matter, but the agency’s website says it has recently revised its procedures for addressing mold complaints and created a new program called “Mold Busters” to comprehensively address mold issues in its buildings.
CBS2 received a statement from the mayor’s office that said, “NYCHA works extensively to communicate with residents and takes the work of eradicating leaks and mold seriously.”
The law takes effect early next year, but the ombudsperson is available now.