A resident of a NYCHA housing project in the Bronx, the Melrose Houses, says she has waited for NYCHA to fix her closet for 4 years, but while they send people to look at it, no one has fixed it. Credit: National Resources Defense Council A resident of a NYCHA housing project in the Bronx, the Melrose Houses, says she has waited for NYCHA to fix her closet for 4 years, but while they send people to look at it, no one has fixed it.
Credit: National Resources Defense Council

 

The city's public housing residents may finally be able to breathe easy.

 

Rampant and severe mold in NYCHA housing that was apparently causing breathing difficulties, sometimes bad enough to warrant hospitalization, must now be addressed, thanks to a settlement in a class action lawsuit.

 

The tenants, represented by the National Resources Defense Council and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, often had to miss work or school due to illness caused by mold in their homes.

 

Many, like Rosana De La Cuadra's six-year-old daughter Amanda Santos, have asthma. Mold has for years been growing in De La Cuadra's bathroom and Amanda's bedroom. It has caused Amanda to be hospitalized several times, including last New Year's Eve.

 

The settlement also forces significant changes in how the city approaches the issue of mold in public housing.

In the past, the city has largely employed "cosmetic" solutions to mold, like paint or bleach.

NYCHA now has to recognize mold is caused by water and address the problem at its source.

They also have a rigid deadline for repairs: seven days for minor problems and 15 for more complex ones.

NYCHA will also now recognize indoor mold is a threat to tenants with asthma and acknowledge they are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat