Contact: Sunny Mindel (212) 788-2958
Jennifer Chait (212) 788-8479
The bill before me today is Introductory Number 582, sponsored by Council Members Spigner and Stabile in conjunction with my Administration. Intro. 582 would amend the Administrative Code of the City of New York, in relation to childhood lead poisoning prevention and would repeal Local Law 1 of 1982.
Specifically, this legislation creates a presumption that all paint in a unit of a multiple dwelling built before 1960, where a child under six resides, is lead-based paint. The bill defines a "lead-based paint hazard" as paint that is, or is presumed to be, lead-based paint, which is either peeling or on a deteriorated subsurface in an apartment where a child under six resides.
Unlike Local Law 1 of 1982, which mandated a dangerous "lead-free" standard, requiring the full abatement of intact lead paint, Intro. 582 requires a "lead-safe" approach, recommended by health professionals.
This legislation will, for the first time, require landlords to make older apartments lead-safe before a new family moves into a unit. In addition, the bill will also require landlords to use specific work practices when they voluntarily remove a lead hazard. This bill will also require landlords to send annual notices to tenants in apartment buildings asking whether a child under six resides in the unit, and then perform an inspection for peeling paint if a child lives in the apartment.
When a landlord receives a lead hazard violation from the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) the landlord will have 21 days to correct the violation using the specified work practices outlined in the bill. These work practices are consistent with the guidelines set forth by the Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) task force on lead paint. If the owner fails to correct the condition within 21 days an additional 15 day period is provided. However, during the 15 day period the job must be done in accordance with the work practices outlined in the Health Code.
When a violation has been issued, Intro. 582 requires the landlord to perform a lead dust wipe test upon completion of the job to ensure that the work was done properly. Additionally, the landlord must then certify to HPD that the violation has been corrected. The bill also increases the fines that may be imposed upon landlords for falsely certifying that they corrected a lead hazard violation to a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $25,000. The current penalty range is a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $3,000. Thus, the bill creates an incentive-based approach for landlords to correct lead hazard violations in a timely fashion, while ensuring that the work performed is done in a safe and professional manner.
When a violation is not corrected by a landlord, this bill will require the City of New York to remove the lead paint hazard in the apartment with small children, and do so within a specified time frame. The City is taking on a significant regulatory responsibility by inspecting and reinspecting for lead hazards in private apartments, and correcting lead paint violations when a landlord fails to do so. No other municipality in the nation has taken on such a significant responsibility.
The legislation also requires the City and landlords to provide tenants with informational materials on lead paint, and requires the Department of Health (DOH) to refer any person who requests assistance in blood lead screening, testing, diagnosis or treatment to an appropriate medical provider. In addition, the legislation requires DOH, upon the request of a parent or guardian, to arrange for the blood lead screening of any child who requires such screening. This screening will be available even when the child is uninsured or the child's insurance does not cover such screening.
Intro. 582 represents a compromise on what many once thought to be an intractable problem: drafting a lead poisoning prevention law that is both practical from an affordable housing perspective and effective from a public health perspective. After a decade of failed attempts, through this legislation we will finally put to rest the public health and affordable housing nightmare that was Local Law 1 of 1982, and replace it with a sensible, incentive-based program that will begin an effective process of removing lead paint hazards in apartments with small children.
There has been much debate and misinformation surrounding this legislation, especially on the issue of landlord liability. Let me be clear: when a landlord is negligent and a plaintiff can establish such negligence, this bill does not immunize that landlord from liability, including the City of New York. More importantly, the focus should not be on liability, lawsuits and attorneys' fees. Rather, the focus should be on preventing lead poisoning in children in the first place.
By setting out a safe and workable approach to removing lead hazards, this bill will go a long way to increasing public health, while keeping housing affordable. In addition, my Administration and the City Council have agreed to fund an additional $3 million for the creation of new lead-safe houses in the City; the hiring of new DOH outreach staff to work in affected communities; and the purchase of new mobile outreach vans to provide on-the-ground assistance and resources to families. This funding is in addition to the $2 million already provided for in the budget this year for lead outreach, testing and the creation of a lead-safe house.
Finally, I want to thank Speaker Peter Vallone and Council Member Archie Spigner for their leadership on this issue, along with members of my Administration and other members of the City Council and their staffs for working together on this landmark legislation.
For the reasons previously stated, I will now sign the bill into law.