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Mold Issues Persist in Red Hook Houses After Sandy, Report Finds

By Nikhita Venugopal | October 28, 2016 8:47am
 Red Hook West Houses, one half of Brooklyn's largest NYCHA development.
Red Hook West Houses, one half of Brooklyn's largest NYCHA development.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

RED HOOK — More than a hundred tenants of NYCHA's Red Hook Houses currently live with mold in their apartments — a major public health concern that was worsened by Hurricane Sandy four years ago, a new report finds.

Local nonprofit Red Hook Initiative highlighted both quality of life and health issues concerning mold and water damage that have plagued residents of Brooklyn's largest housing complex for years.

RHI surveyed 280 people between March and August this year, and found that an overwhelming majority of respondents — 94 percent — have had mold and leaks in the past, while 40 percent currently have mold in their apartments.

"While Hurricane Sandy exacerbated mold problems in deteriorating NYCHA buildings, exposure to mold and its harmful effect on health have plagued residents in Red Hook Houses for years. Mold is contributing to a public health crisis," according to the report titled, "The Impact of Mold on Red Hook NYCHA Tenants" A Health Crisis in Public Housing" released Thursday. 

Residents have spotted mold throughout their apartments, including in bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, closets, furniture and cabinets.

“Mold has been a health threat to NYCHA residents for years, and our findings demonstrate the full extent of this dangerous situation,” Jill Eisenhard, executive director of Red Hook Initiative said in a statement.

“It is unconscionable that thousands of our neighbors have been living in conditions that put them at risk for asthma, bronchitis and other preventable ailments. It’s time our leaders address this public health problem, and make the development safer for the 6,000 residents who call it home."

Issues of mold, leaks and water damage have been an ongoing concern for residents of Red Hook Houses as tenants have repeatedly criticized the New York City Housing Authority for failing to fix these issues and their slow response to complaints.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer conducted an audit of NYCHA in July 2015 and found that citywide, the agency had under-reported their maintenance backlog and would routinely close non-emergency orders if residents were not home when workers arrived.

According to the new report, over the past year about 57 percent of those surveyed reported mold conditions to NYCHA, and of those, 59 percent received a response from the agency. Less than 16 percent of those who received a response had a positive outcome as a result of NYCHA's assistance during that period.

Roughly $438 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] has been allocated to Red Hook Houses for Sandy-related repairs. While the plans do not specifically mention mold remediation, it would involve restoration and repair for walls and floors damaged by flooding as well as a full replacement of roofs in damaged buildings, according to the report.


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