NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Jacob Riis Houses tenants slam Mayor Adams, NYCHA for response to arsenic found in tap water

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NEW YORK — New York City’s public advocate is blasting Mayor Eric Adams and NYCHA for their handling of arsenic found in the water at the Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village.

Tenants told CBS2’s Jessica Moore they share his frustration.

First, it was positive, then it was negative. Now, residents of the Jacob Riis Houses have no idea if their tap water is tainted with arsenic.

“That’s too quick, you know,” one resident said.

“They just keep telling us, ‘We’re working on it. We got negative tests but still don’t drink the water, don’t cook with the water,'” another resident said.

READ MORE: Hits keep on coming for NYCHA residents in East Village — arsenic snafu followed by scheduled power shutoff

On Friday, test results showed arsenic in the tap water at the NYCHA housing complex. Residents were told not to drink it or cook with it and given bottled water.

On Monday, newer results showed the water tested negative for arsenic.

“If someone tells you, ‘Whoa, we found arsenic. We’re not sure, hold on,’ and then you don’t hear anything else, that doesn’t make any sense,” New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said. “NYCHA immediately needs to set up a time where the tenants can sit and ask them questions.”

Williams says NYCHA knew about the arsenic for days before it warned tenants and has now left them in the lurch.

“They just feel like they can give us a little bit of information and we’re supposed to believe it. No, we’re not believing none of this. Who started this? How long y’all knew?” said Mary Canon, vice president of the Tenant Association.

READ MORE: Tenants at Jacob Riis Houses losing their patience with city’s response to tap water arsenic concerns

Tenants say that the mayor, who showed up for a photo op last weekend and then ran from reporters when they tried to ask him about his response to the problem, should be doing more to support the people who live there.

“I voted for him, my community voted for him, so he should be out here,” Tenant Association President Daphne Williams said.

“Are you disappointed in the way he’s handling this situation?” Moore asked.

“I don’t see him, so yes, I’m disappointed,” Williams said.

The mayor’s office says it has been in regular contact with residents and has had members of its staff on site since Friday. The mayor says the city will have additional test results by the end of the week.

The city confirms ongoing tests on the water continue to produce negative results, but city officials say residents should still not drink or cook with the tap water until all the testing is complete.

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