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HUD No. 18-093
HUD Public Affairs
(202) 708-0685
FOR RELEASE
Wednessday
September 5, 2018

HUD ANNOUNCES $800,000 SETTLEMENT WITH NEW JERSEY PROPERTY OWNERS FOR POOR HOUSING CONDITIONS
AND VIOLATIONS OF LEAD-BASED PAINT RULES

Owners of Newark’s Garden Spires Apts. failed to provide safe and health housing for families

WASHINGTON – As part of its Protect our Kids! Campaign, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced a settlement with the former owners of a Newark, New Jersey apartment development for failing to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing conditions to their residents. The agreement requires First King Properties LLC, and 117 South Fourth Street Realty, the former owners and managers of federally assisted Garden Spires Apartments, to pay $800,000 in civil penalties for not complying with the HUD Lead Disclosure Rule and Lead Safe Housing Rule. Read HUD’s settlement agreement.

HUD previously issued notices to the owners and managers of Garden Spires Apartments, a 350-unit HUD-assisted housing complex in Newark, informing them that they failed to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing and failed to comply with the Lead Safe Housing Rule and Lead Disclosure Rule. HUD alleged that the owners misrepresented their knowledge of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards within the project to tenants, and until October 2017, failed to conduct required risk assessment re-evaluations of those hazards and annual visual assessments.  In addition, HUD claimed that the owners and managers knew that the project contained hazardous physical conditions.

“When taxpayers subsidize private housing, owners have a legal and moral obligation to provide decent and safe housing to the families we serve,” said Lynne Patton, HUD’s New York-New Jersey Regional Administrator. “This settlement sends a clear message to all housing providers we do business with that HUD takes the health and safety of families seriously and there are stiff penalties to pay for those who fail to do so.”

HUD’s Protect our Kids! Campaign is a Department-wide enforcement effort to make certain owners and landlords satisfy their obligations under the Lead Disclosure and Lead Safe Housing regulations.  HUD’s team is drawn from multiple enforcement and program offices at the Department, including HUD’s Office of General Counsel (OGC); Departmental Enforcement Center (DEC); Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (Healthy Homes); Office of the Inspector General (OIG); Office of Public and Indian Housing; Real Estate Assessment Center; and the Office of Multifamily Housing Programs. The objective of the campaign is to review and ensure compliance with regulations that are intended to reduce the potential of lead poisoning in children, in both privately owned homes and those receiving federal assistance.

Health Effects of Lead-Based Paint

No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, poorer hearing, and a host of other health problems in young children. Many of these effects are thought to be irreversible. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school, become juvenile delinquents and engage in criminal and other anti-social behavior. Researchers have found that even at low levels, lead exposure in children can significantly impact IQ and might delay puberty in young girls.

At higher levels, lead can damage a child's kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.

Eliminating lead-based paint hazards in older low-income housing is essential if childhood lead poisoning is to be eradicated. According to CDC estimates, the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels has been cut in half since the early 1990's, although as many as 1 million children are still affected by lead poisoning today. About 23 million homes still have significant lead-based paint hazards, and, of them, about 3.6 million homes with children less than 6 years of age have significant lead-based paint hazards. 

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