“Cuomo Declares State of Emergency for New York City’s Public Housing” By Jessica Gould
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo is declaring a state of emergency at New York City’s public housing, which he called “an embarrassment” to the city and the country.
The city’s public housing faces persistent problems with broken boilers, leaks and mold.
In a speech at the James Weldon Johnson Houses in East Harlem on Monday, Cuomo said declaring an emergency will speed up repairs by cutting through red tape. He’s also calling for an independent monitor to watch how money is spent, including $250 million for the New York City Housing Authority in the state budget for the fiscal year that began this month, and $200 million from last year’s budget.
The so-called emergency manager will be chosen by NYCHA’s Citywide Council of Presidents Danny Barber, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio within 60 days. The manager then has 30 days to select an independent contractor.
Cuomo says the new projects funded by the state won’t be subject to the housing authority’s regular procurement rules. “Delivering money to NYCHA is like throwing money out the window,” he told reporters after his speech. “The best way NYCHA can use money to generate heat for apartments is to put the cash in a bucket and light the bucket on fire and maybe that would generate some heat.”
Pundits viewed the move as part of Cuomo’s ongoing feud with Mayor de Blasio, who oversees the city’s public housing stock. Last week, actor Cynthia Nixon, an ally of the mayor who is running against Cuomo in the Democratic primary for governor this fall, called on the governor to contribute more money for public housing.
City Hall had pushed back against the idea of an independent monitor, and speaking on NY1 Monday night, Mayor de Blasio said the city was still waiting to see the money the state promised in the past. “Now he’s responsible for giving NYCHA half a billion dollars so we can get on with fixing it,” he said. He noted his administration has already invested $2.1 billion in NYCHA’s capital needs and contributed $1.6 billion in operating funds.
But tenants said they don’t care about the politics as long as improvements are made.
“Any money will be welcome by the residents,” Ethel Velez is President of the Johnson Houses Tenant Association.
The authority is facing $17 billion in deferred maintenance due largely to declining federal support for public housing.”