Growing concerns over the city’s public housing authority reached state levels today as Queens lawmakers rallied for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s help in fixing the ailing city agency.
In a move that rankled the mayor, City Council members Rory Lancman (D-Briarwood, Cunningham Park, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Richmond Hill) and Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park) led by Robert Cornegy Jr. (D-Brooklyn) earlier today called for Cuomo to declare a state of emergency on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) as a first step towards taking charge of the troubled authority from the city.
The Governor’s office in response committed to helping the lawmakers in the form of financial assistance that they plan on including in the executive budget due on April 1. However, Counsel to the Governor, Alphonso David, left the details of such a state intervention in the hands of the local legislators.
“The question we pose to the Councilman Cornegy and City Council is how can the State best help to address the issue. This State does have the power to declare an emergency. A Declaration of Emergency can take various forms from expediting contracting mechanisms to intervening with actual task completion. That is the discussion we must now have,” said David.
The call for state intervention comes as NYCHA officials lied about submitting lead testing to tenants, and a report last week that found some 320,000 of the NYCH’s 390,000 residents have had heat and hot water outages this winter.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the State Department of Health will investigate the lead paint, mold and heat complaints filed by public housing developments at the request of State Senator James Sanders (D-South Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens and most of the Rockaways).
Sanders complained of longstanding issues at NYCHA projects in his district including health risks posed by the fraud lead paint inspections.
“The State Department of Health has agreed to a request by Senator James Sanders to inspect the housing authority in his district but we agree with the Councilman [Cornegy] that the problem is system-wide,” said David.
Further as KCP reported last week here and here, NYCHA has only completed one of 33 developments damaged from Superstorm Sandy, despite receiving a $3 billion lump sum payment nearly three years ago to repair and/or protect the developments.
“The appalling state of disrepair in NYCHA buildings, both in my District and across the city, is a serious health and safety hazard for residents. Too many parents and children have been exposed to either moldy conditions or dangerous lead paint, while families have suffered in the cold this winter without heat or hot water. I am proud to stand with Council Member Cornegy and my colleagues in the City Council in calling on the State to declare a state of emergency on all NYCHA facilities in response to this crisis,” said Lancman
“There are thousands of New Yorkers living in substandard NYCHA housing. These residents are paying rent like every other tenant and they deserve to have heat and hot water. NYCHA buildings are in crisis and a more profound investment is needed. An immediate declaration of emergency is necessary to make these urgent repairs,” said Adams.
The de Blasio administration responded that it is addressing the problems residents face with $2.1 billion in capital infrastructure funding and $1.6 billion in operating funds.