by Greg Smith, September 14, 2022
The repercussions from positive arsenic readings at NYCHA’s Jacob Riis Houses in the Lower East Side continued Wednesday with the City Council announcing a hearing next week to put NYCHA and City Hall officials under oath to explain what happened.
Three separate council committee chairs will team up at a Sept. 23 joint hearing to get a clear explanation of how the public housing authority and Mayor Eric Adams first told Jacob Riis Houses tenants, 2,600 in all, that tests taken to determine the source of cloudy water there showed arsenic in their water.
Then a week later they turned around and said the tests were false positives and that there was no arsenic.
The hearing will seek to document who knew what, and when, and will be led by Public Housing Committee Chairperson Alexa Aviles, Environmental Protection Committee Chairperson Jim Gennaro and Oversight and Investigations Committee Chairperson Gale Brewer.
Parallel to those hearings, the federal monitor overseeing NYCHA has teamed up with the city Department of Investigation to take a close look at what went on behind the scenes last week before, during, and after Riis residents were advised not to drink or cook with water from their taps until the system was flushed out and the water re-tested.
Mayor Adams has also promised to do his own investigation, saying he wasn’t told about the situation until a week after NYCHA knew about it.