Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday called for the State Department of Health (DOH) to commence an immediate investigation into New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) complexes and assess any violations on the premises.
The order followed Cuomo making good on a NYCHA tenants offer for the governor to tour a development in the Bronx. After, the tour Cuomo called the living conditions “disgusting” and committed himself to improving the living conditions of the city’s 390,000 public housing residents.
NYCHA has been fighting multiple controversies in recent months including fraudulent lead inspections and a heating crisis that left over 80 percent of public housing residents without heat or hot water during the Winter.
“I accepted the tenants’ invitation today to tour NYCHA facilities and I stand firmly with the residents. I have been through NYCHA housing many times over many years. It is much, much worse than anything I have ever seen before. There is no doubt the tenants are right and the conditions have gotten much, much worse recently,” said Cuomo.
Additionally, Cuomo noted the lack of effective progress by NYCHA to make any repairs or improvements to the 150 developments across the city citing recent million dollar funding.
“Money is not now the answer. The problem is NYCHA incompetence because they cannot effectively or quickly spend the money, and the situation is critical and urgent. NYCHA informed us that it would take 3 or 4 years to spend the money and make the repairs. That is a nonstarter. We don’t need $200 million to sit on a shelf. We need immediate progress and solutions, not press release progress or political finger pointing. I want a solution for the children of NYCHA now,” said Cuomo.
In January, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $200 million investment to replace boilers and upgrade the heating systems at 20 NYCHA developments experiencing chronic outages. However, the funding is not expected to kick in until 2019 and will be invested over three years and not all at once.
The tour comes off the heels of a lawsuit filed against the city last week by residents who are accusing NYCHA of “years of neglect” and “systemic violations of the law,” according to reports.
Late last month, the Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP), made up of the leaders of resident associations at different public housing developments, demanded an independent monitor to oversee NYCHA as part of the lawsuit.
The tour was not well received by all. City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) was quick to note the lack of state funding for the ailing authority and claimed Cuomo’s tour was simply a publicity stunt.
By: Kelly Mena