City Council hearing today on arsenic scare in drinking water at NYCHA’s Jacob Riis Houses

NEW YORK — The New York City Council is holding a public hearing Friday on the recent arsenic scare at a Manhattan public housing complex. 

Residents at the Jacob Riis Houses were told their tap water wasn’t safe, but the city then said those test results were wrong.

As CBS2’s John Dias reports, they’re furious and feeling forgotten. 

“A lot of people around here are angry,” one person said. 

“They just left us hanging,” said another. “Makes us feel like we are not seen or heard.”

Residents of NYCHA’s Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village say after a major scare earlier this month, the city is just relying on one test to prove everything is now OK. 

“They should come and check more often. Ever since they checked the water then, they haven’t come back,” said resident Romeo Rodriguez. 

Initial testing results revealed traces of arsenic in the tap water, so residents were told not to drink or cook with it. But since then, the city says it received an explanation from the lab saying the original test results were false

“Never seen a situation like this, not this bad,” said resident Helen Rios. 

Rios has lived in the complex for 30 years, and says many residents still don’t trust the tap water and instead continue to rely heavily on bottled water. 

“Have you heard about anyone moving out  because of this?” Dias asked. 

“No. No one could afford to move out, it is affordable housing,” Rios said. 

Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Adams even showed up to the complex trying to reassure residents it’s safe by having a glass of tap water himself, but residents are not impressed. 

“That’s only one time. He don’t live in the complex,” Rios said. 

Since the scare, NYCHA Chair Gregory Russ, appointed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, stepped down, but will still remain chairman of NYCHA’s board of directors. 

When it comes to finding a replacement for the CEO, Adams is still searching for one. He is looking across the country. 

Lawyers for the tenants have announced a lawsuit over the drinking water scare, seeking damages for both illness and fear of illness, and also demanding on-site health testing. 

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