In August of this year, Pamela Yearwood and her five young children were placed in an apartment under the Advantage program. The City's Department of Homeless Services inspected the apartment and found it to be livable, but just a few weeks after moving in, Ms. Yearwood learned that the apartment contained several dangerous lead paint hazards. As of October, HPD had issued a total of 25 violations, including five for peeling paint that tested positive for lead.
To make matters even worse, the Administration for Children's Services found out about the lead paint and threatened to take her children away if she did not move. With the help of a lawyer Ms. Yearwood was able to move to a lead safe house in order to keep her family together while the landlord was ordered to make repairs.
In October, DHS again said the apartment was suitable to move back in, but when Ms. Yearwood returned she found that no repairs had been made.
The New York Daily News detailed the story of Ms. Yearwood in a set of articles two weeks ago, located here and here. The story underscores yet another major problem with the City's Advantage program--a lack of adequate inspection procedures that ensure safe and adequate conditions for families. We at the Coalition have spoken with many families facing similar issues regarding the conditions of their Advantage apartments, including lead paint hazards, water damage, mold, vermin, and illegal conversions.
This is certainly not a new issue for the City. In February 2007, we wrote a report detailing the hazardous conditions of apartments used under the City's failed Housing Stability Plus program. And in July of this year, Comptroller John Liu cited inadequate inspection procedures in his audit of the Work Advantage program.
In August alone, the City moved 758 families into the Advantage program and continues to put hundreds of families at risk each month by approving apartments with unsafe conditions.
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