Tenants at an East Village public housing complex lined up for cases of drinking water in the rain Tuesday afternoon, four days after the city confirmed tests had detected unsafe levels of arsenic in the tap water. Other tenants filled up water jugs from a nearby fire hydrant while a group of tenant volunteers distributed donated meals of pasta and sandwiches to people unable to cook at home.

Since the Labor Day weekend revelation, city officials have set up water faucets and a water distribution site in a parking lot, but offered tenants few other details on the evolving situation.

“We'll have our answers,” said Daphne Williams, president of the tenant association, as she sat under a tent on Tuesday afternoon distributing meals to residents. “This won't just go away.”

Charles Lutvak, a spokesman for the mayor, said Tuesday night that they’ve retested the original locations where arsenic was detected and they’ve now been found to be negative. In addition they’re testing 140 more sites, and so far 58 of those tests have found safe drinking water, though they’re still recommending residents drink bottled water while they wait for the rest of the results to come in.

Mayor Eric Adams addressed the ongoing issue at an unrelated press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re going to be extremely transparent,” the mayor told The City and other reporters. “We’re going to do a thorough report of what we’re doing, to make sure that people are safe.”

Daphne Williams, president of the tenant association, says she's determined to get answers from the city on how long officials have known about unsafe levels of arsenic found at the Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village.

Williams said many Jacob Riis residents had voted for Adams and expected more of him in their time of need. She said she recently turned to nonprofits to help feed residents rather than city agencies and wondered if tenants would be offered some kind of rent discount for their hardship.

“This is disrupting our whole routine of life. We’re out here sitting out here in the rain,” she said. “We could be at home in our own warm apartments, but we can't go up and drink our water like the mayor can drink his, in a nice warm place.”

On Saturday, NYCHA’s federal monitor Bart Schwartz, who has been keeping tabs on conditions in public housing developments since a 2018 consent decree with the federal government, ordered the city to preserve documents about water testing at Jacob Riis.

City officials set up a bottled water distribution tent in a parking lot outside the Jacob Riis Houses.

The City initially reported that NYCHA managers had known about unsafe levels of arsenic for two weeks. Subsequent reports from the publication outlined how NYCHA had hired the contractor LiquiTech on August 30th, and the company had collected six water samples from two buildings in the Riis complex. A day later, the company had determined five out of six of those water samples contained levels of arsenic above safe levels, The City reported.

Lutvak told Gothamist over the weekend “preliminary results … from retesting” on Friday first detected the arsenic, contesting reports that city officials had known in the days before.

Lutvak didn’t return a request for additional comment on the timeline of when arsenic was detected for how high the arsenic level was when previously detected.

State Assemblymember Harvey Epstein called for a public meeting for residents to hear from NYCHA and city officials directly.

Several tenants who spoke with Gothamist described feeling ill in recent weeks, but weren’t sure how to go about getting tested for arsenic poisoning, which can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and even paralysis and blindness, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The city’s health department didn’t return a request for comment right away on whether they would help residents get tested if they suspected arsenic poisoning.

Martha Lozano, 69, said her daughter, who has developmental disabilities, had been sick for several days. She wanted to get her tested, but her primary care doctor didn’t have the right test. She went to an urgent care facility that didn’t have the test either.

“If I go to the emergency room, they’re gonna tell me the same thing. I'm just scared because she doesn't know any better,” she said, describing how her daughter often drinks from the tap when unattended. “I'm happy I live here. I have a nice apartment. But they gotta tell us the truth about the water.”