Living in New York City public housing is hazardous to your health. Mold-infested housing projects are giving people asthma, and the New York City Housing Authority is so reluctant to deal with it that the federal government is getting involved.

This week, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III ordered the appointment of a special monitor to ensure that NYCHA responds quickly when residents complain of mold, and that it does so in a way that won’t have the mold coming back right after it’s fixed. Mold has long been a problem in NYCHA buildings, and it was only worsened after Hurricane Sandy.

The decision comes after the Bloomberg administration settled a federal class-action lawsuit brought by asthma-afflicted projects residents, agreeing to make repairs 7 to 15 days after an order came in, and to attack mold at the leaks that are often the source of the problem. Evidently, NYCHA wasn’t holding up it’s end of the bargain. “Nycha’s justifications for its failure to comply are inadequate, and the attitude of Nycha officials appears to be one of indifference,” Judge Pauley wrote in his decision to appoint the monitor.

At least 400,000 New Yorkers are living in NYCHA buildings, and all of them are there because they have trouble affording private housing. The mold in their buildings is making them sick, and when you’re sick, it’s difficult to work. When it’s difficult to work, it’s difficult to make money, and when you don’t have much money, it’s difficult to afford the medicine that might make you less sick. Public housing is making poor people sick, and by making them sick it’s making it harder for them to stop being poor. We need to fix the mold.

Image via Getty. Contact the author at