Lead paint testing begins in NYCHA community centers serving young children

The New York City Housing Authority announced Thursday that inspections would begin soon for potentially dangerous lead paint conditions in almost 200 community centers that serve young children. 

The inspections, which will start this weekend and are expected to be completed by March 31, are one of the requirements under a settlement agreement that forced the city to cede some of its control over the authority to the federal government after decades of mismanagement and neglect. 

One of the highest-profile scandals to face the authority has been its failure to inspect and remediate lead paint in apartments. But public housing buildings also include community centers that provide a host of services, including more than 180 that run programs serving children under six years old, who are considered most vulnerable to the effects of lead. 

Chalkbeat recently reported that those programs, some of which run classrooms that are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s heralded universal pre-K, often contend with the same facilities issues plaguing residents.

The city’s education department has also faced criticism for its handling of lead paint inspections and remediation after a WNYC investigation found alarming levels of lead in deteriorating paint and dust at some schools. In the wake of the news reports, the education department expanded its testing and announced it had found deteriorating lead paint in more than 1,800 classrooms.

But those inspections left out pre-K centers in public housing buildings, because they are are mostly run by non-profit organizations and regulated by a different city agency — namely, the health department. 

The authority said in a press release that notices will be “posted and distributed” if deficiencies are found, but officials did not immediately respond to questions asking for more specific information about where and how families would be made aware. For a schedule of the inspections, check here

“The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages families to speak with their healthcare provider about blood lead testing. It is important that families establish a relationship with a health care provider so there is ongoing care for their child following test results,” the authority’s release said.