Public Health

Program to Combat Asthma Would Lean on Landlords

By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ

For decades, public health experts have tried — and mostly failed — to contain an asthma epidemic that afflicts many New Yorkers living in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

But now, the City Council hopes to significantly curtail the spread of the lung disease by forcing landlords at some of the most badly maintained buildings to clean up their premises.

Under legislation to be introduced on Wednesday, the Council would require owners of 175 apartment buildings to take steps to eliminate garbage, mold and vermin — all factors that have been linked to asthma.

If they do not comply, the city would file liens against the properties, effectively billing landlords for the work required.

The City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said swift action was needed to stop the public health crisis caused by asthma, which affects more than 400,000 New Yorkers, many of them children.

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