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May 19, 2019

NYCHA’s insurance bill jumps 18%, in part over concerns about ‘adverse media coverage’

June 28, 2018
Former NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye testifies in December at a City Council committee hearing regarding the city Department of Investigation’s probe into lead-based paint conditions. (Susan Watts / New York Daily News)

The city Housing Authority’s insurance premiums will jump dramatically this year, in part due to insurance company concerns about all the bad news stories about the troubled agency.

Insurers are billing NYCHA $4.54 million for general liability coverage for the upcoming fiscal year 2019, up a stunning 18% from last year’s $3.83 million bill.

During a NYCHA board meeting Wednesday, Tricia Roberts, the agency’s vice president for finance, said one reason for the hike was “due to adverse media coverage” of the agency.

“All insurers have concerns. That was one of their concerns,” Roberts told the Daily News after the meeting.

In the past year, the agency has been awash in a deluge of negative publicity from The News and government investigators, including revelations that NYCHA lied about failures to inspect for lead paint. The top managers involved in the lead paint coverup have either been fired, demoted or have resigned, including the agency’s former chairwoman, Shola Olatoye, who falsely certified to federal officials that NYCHA was in compliance with all required lead paint rules.

Two weeks ago, the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office released a damaging report documenting years of lies and coverups, and NYCHA and Mayor de Blasio agreed to enter into a consent decree that will involve the appointment of a special monitor to oversee the agency.

New York Daily News front page on June 12 featuring Mayor de Blasio and Shola Olatoye about NYCHA.
New York Daily News front page on June 12 featuring Mayor de Blasio and Shola Olatoye about NYCHA. (New York Daily News)

On Wednesday, NYCHA spokeswoman Robin Levine declined to elaborate on the unusual concerns about press coverage expressed by the insurance companies, instead issuing a brief statement:

“NYCHA’s insurance policies are renewed on a yearly basis. The concerns raised by our insurers pre-date NYCHA’s new leadership team and the reforms we are putting in place to ensure all New Yorkers have the safe, healthy connected homes they deserve.”

The insurance team is led by Gemini Insurance Co., partnering with Lloyd’s of London, XL Insurance America Inc., and United States Fire Insurance and Navigators Insurance.

A spokeswoman for Gemini, the lead company in the NYCHA contract, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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