WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced an agreement with a New York City property management company and 20 affiliated owners of federally assisted multifamily properties in Brooklyn. The owners agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty for failing to provide information regarding lead hazard reduction work at the properties and to clean up lead-based paint hazards in nearly 800 apartments.
The agreement announced represents the first administrative settlement for violations of the Federal Lead Safe Housing Rule. According to HUD, Star Realty Company and the property owners (see attached list) failed to provide information to HUD regarding the operation and condition of the 20 multifamily properties.
"This is the first settlement by HUD concerning the Federal Lead Safe Housing Rule, but it will not be the last," said Jon Gant, Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. "HUD is committed to providing lead-safe housing throughout the nation; and providers of federally assisted and federally owned housing are held to the highest standard."
Under the settlement, the companies agreed to pay the civil money penalty and to come into compliance with the Lead Safe Housing Rule on a strict timetable by conducting lead-based paint risk assessments; providing notification of testing and lead work to tenants; performing lead-based paint hazard reduction work; conducting clearance examinations; and performing ongoing operations and maintenance.
The landlords agreed to perform lead-based paint hazard reduction work in 17 properties containing 639 units. Three subject properties with an additional 149 units were brought into compliance prior to settlement of this action.
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act is one of the primary federal enforcement tools to prevent lead poisoning in young children. The Lead Safe Housing Rule requires certain lead hazard reduction work to be performed in all federally owned and federally assisted housing. For housing receiving project-based rental assistance, owners or their agents must provide notice of evaluation and hazard reduction activities and a lead information pamphlet to all tenants and perform a certain degree of lead-based paint testing and hazard reduction work depending on the amount of assistance received.
Health Effects of Lead-Based Paint Exposure
Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, poorer hearing, and a host of other health problems in infants and young children. Many of these effects are thought to be irreversible. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school, become juvenile delinquents and engage in criminal and other anti-social behavior. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that even at low levels, lead exposure in children can significantly impact IQ and even delay puberty in young girls.
At higher levels, lead can damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 310,000 of the nation’s 20 million children under the age of six have blood lead levels high enough to impair their ability to think, concentrate and learn.
Eliminating lead-based paint hazards in older low-income housing is essential if childhood lead poisoning is to be eradicated. According to CDC estimates, the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels has been cut by two-thirds since the early 1990’s, although the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in low-income, older housing remains high. HUD estimates that the number of houses with lead paint has declined from 64 million in 1995 to 37 million in 2005. About 23.7 million homes still have significant lead-based paint hazards.