Council Speaker Corey Johnson levied some tough criticism at several city agencies Thursday at a hearing on a package of bills meant to protect the public from lead poisoning.
The New York City Housing Authority “knowingly provided hazardous living conditions” to needy residents, Johnson said. And the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development didn’t keep track of violations, he added.
The result was decades of exposure for families either in contaminated housing or through contact with tainted water and soil, Johnson noted.
“This problem did not happen overnight. It predates this administration, but I hope that we can work together to ensure that all children in New York City grow up in an environment free from the hazards of lead exposure, so that our young people can maximize their potential in life,” said the City Council speaker (D-Chelsea).
The package introduced Thursday contains 25 bills — all of them aimed at tightening regulations meant to prevent lead seeping into water and soil and removing old lead paint from housing.
After the Daily News revealed June 30 that hundreds of young children under 6 living in NYCHA units had lead poisoning, the city revealed it was adopted a new measure to better identify early exposure in kids.
Some 4,200 kids were found last year to be at risk of cognitive impairment due to high levels of lead in their blood.
Johnson also blasted the city’s Health Department for not giving the City Council data on lead before the hearing — and threatened to issue subpoenas in the future.
“That is an unacceptable way to deal with an issue of this gravity,” he said. “We will not have it in the future. We will not wait.”
Acting Health Department Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot apologized for not having the data beforehand.
“The Health Department has and will continue to be committed to transparency,” she said.