Eight California housing complexes accused of not complying with lead-safety regulations
Federal regulators have accused eight federally-assisted apartment complexes in California of failing to ensure that children living there were not exposed to unhealthful levels of lead paint.
The violation notices issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development cite owners for failing to submit documentation verifying, among other things, that they’d conducted risk assessments for lead-based paint in their facilities.
The June 26 notices date back to alleged violations in 2014 and were issued for every year since then. Fines for each violation range from about $27,000 to $37,000.
The notices follow federal audits conducted by two separate agencies that found HUD was not properly tracking lead-paint inspections at housing complexes receiving federal funds.
Brian Sullivan, a HUD spokesman, said the California complexes were identified as part of the department’s routine compliance process, though he could not provide details on why it took so long to issue the notices.
“We discover it when we do, but I don’t really know how to explain it,” Sullivan said. “We have thousands of [housing providers] around the country.”
The facility owners have 30 days to respond to the accusations or claim an inability to pay the fine, according to the notices.
Of the eight facilities, five didn’t respond to HUD’s initial notice sent at the beginning of May, resulting in another fine, Sullivan said.
At least one of the cited landlords has already submitted documents in response to the allegation.
LINC Housing Corp. and Aperto Property Management had been accused of not conducting risk assessments at the Pleasant View Apartments complex in Fresno. Alex Nguyen, director of asset management at LINC, said the property owners have since submitted documents to HUD.
None of the other accused facilities returned emails or phone calls for comment. Among those are Southern California complexes S&J Limited II and Curtis Johnson Apartments in Los Angeles and Grant Heights Park Apartments in San Diego.
Along with the alleged risk-assessment violation, HUD has also accused S&J Limited II of failing to disclose the potential lead paint presence to its tenants, which carries a higher monetary penalty.
Lead exposure in children has been linked to behavioral problems such as ADHD, and lead-based paint has been banned in the United States since 1978.
HUD said the citations were issued as part of its Save our Kids campaign, an initiative that started in June and aims to raise awareness of lead-based paint exposure in children.
Earlier this month, the department said it issued citations to violators across the country for similar violations of HUD’s Lead Disclosure and Lead Safe Housing rules.
The rules make housing facilities receiving HUD funds responsible for inspecting their own properties for lead paint and sending documentation to the agency to verify their compliance.
However, the recent audits by the Government Accountability Office and HUD’s Office of the Inspector General found that HUD was shirking its compliance duties.
The Inspector General report, which analyzed data from 2014 to 2016, said HUD failed to ensure that public housing agencies performed inspections for lead paint and reported cases of potential child exposure.
The Government Accountability Office’s report recommended that HUD should improve compliance monitoring, as well as the documentation and evaluation processes in its Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control grant program.