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Public Advocate James Slams NYCHA Over Lead Paint Fiasco

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City Public Advocate Letitia James slammed the city Housing Authority and its leadership over the weekend, saying they lied about lead paint inspections multiple times.

In the wake of the recent lead paint fiasco, as well as its widespread boiler problems, James called the circumstances in NYCHA's housing a "humanitarian crisis."

"I think at this point in time, we need sweeping changes at NYCHA from top to bottom," James said.

James, herself a lawyer, is incensed by NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye's recent testimony before the City Council.

"Her actions are indefensible, and there's just no excuse for lying to the Committee on Public Housing – not once, but twice," James said.

At a hearing in late December, Olatoye was grilled for hours by furious City Council members about the agency's failure to inspect properly for lead paint in public housing.

For Sherron Paige, a Brooklyn mother who said her son got sick because her apartment was not inspected, the Dec. 5 hearing was just too much. Paige broke down in tears at the hearing, while Olatoye publicly admitted that NYCHA did not perform required lead inspections from 2012 to 2016.

She also admitted she misled the feds by certifying the work was, in fact, done.

"Lead poisoning in young people can mean brain damage and low IQ scores, and reduced potential for learning; learning disorders," James said.

Paige said that was exactly what happened to her son Kyan Dickerson, 4.

"I'm hurt. My child has a speech delay. My child can't focus properly in school, OK?" she said. "They're ready to put my child in special ed, because he can't really communicate."

Paige, who lives in the Red Hook Houses development, said the lead paint dangers were concealed from her by the city. The full extent of the problem was made public only recently when Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters issued a report that detailed NYCHA's failings.

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