De Blasio – Cuomo squabble continues as 65 NYCHA roofs replaced on time & under budget
Hundreds of Millions at Stake as Bureaucracies Snipe
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that leaky roofs have been fully replaced at 65 NYCHA buildings on time and under budget. He also used the occasion to snipe at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sudden interest in NYCHA housing projects, just in time for the gubernatorial primaries in September.
In Brooklyn, repairs have been completed at the Albany 1 & 2 and Sheepshead Bay projects. The next phase will replace 78 roofs, including Brooklyn’s Tilden, Cypress Hills and Breukelen projects. The repairs should go a long way towards dealing with the mold problems that have developed since Superstorm Sandy.
The mayor did not mask his feelings toward Cuomo’s emergency order turning control of the state’s portion of NYCHA repair funding —$550 million — over to an independent monitor.
“Look, let me start at the beginning – I don’t think the executive order was what we needed,” de Blasio told reporters at a press conference at the Queensbridge Houses in Queens. “What we needed was design-build authority for all of NYCHA, and what we needed was the $250 million that the state had authorized in the 2015 and the 2017 budgets to actually get to NYCHA — neither of those things had ever happened.”
De Blasio said that the executive order might add more bureaucracy and slow things down, adding that the city was still “digesting” the order.
Cuomo said at a budget speech on March 20 that NYCHA tenants asked the state “to come in and help.”
“We have $250 million more for NYCHA in this budget. That’s a total commitment from New York state of $550 million,” Cuomo said, adding that the state government “has no legal role or legal responsibility to public housing … It’s a federally funded program.”
But de Blasio sniped that the governor was merely doing a NYCHA drive-by.
“There are some politicians who suddenly believe it is stylish to visit NYCHA. I’ve been visiting public housing buildings throughout my entire career, all the time,” de Blasio said, adding, “I am not running for re-election, the people have spoken and we have term limits, and I’m in my last term. I’ll keep coming to NYCHA, not because it’s a politically convenient moment, because it’s my job to support NYCHA.”
When asked by a reporter to specifically name the politician he was complaining about, de Blasio replied, “Do you have no have imagination whatsoever, I guess.”
After the laughter died down, de Blasio elaborated, “Of course I’m talking about the governor. He hadn’t been to a NYCHA development for five years previous to his recent tour. Let’s be real.”
He added, “Money from the 2015 state budget still hasn’t gotten to NYCHA. Money from the 2017 state budget still hasn’t gotten to NYCHA. The governor had plenty of power to get that money to us. Didn’t do it, period. So, I’m not going to look the other way at something like that.”
Cuomo has also been attacked for his sudden interest in NYCHA conditions by former “Sex and the City” actress and gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon. Invited by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Nixon visited the Albany project in Brooklyn at the end of March.
“The replacement of 25 roofs at Albany Houses and Sheepshead Bay Houses is no small investment; it’s major and long-overdue,” BP Adams said on Friday. He added, “For decades, thousands of rent-paying tenants at these developments have seen the health and safety of their buildings deteriorate because of across-the-board governmental neglect. This critical infrastructure project would not be possible without the financial commitment of the de Blasio Administration, as well as the staunch, steadfast advocacy of New Yorkers fighting against the headwinds that threaten the survival of public housing. As work proceeds in the coming year on 55 roofs at Breukelen Houses, Cypress Hills Houses, and Tilden Houses, I ask all of us in public service to stay vigilant and work in partnership to address the unmet needs of our NYCHA residents.”
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