NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Several New York City mayoral candidates are taking a very hands-on approach to the hottest topics in the race for mayor.

Democrats Christine Quinn, Anthony Weiner, Bill de Blasio, William Thompson Jr., and John Liu will spend Saturday night in a Harlem public housing building  to bring attention to the inferior conditions in the city-run system.  The topic has become a prominent one in the mayoral race.

Call it ‘front door campaigning’, each candidate will spend 12 hours with a host family in units which, for the most part, do not have air-conditioning. They will also discuss the experience Sunday morning at a news conference.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended city Housing Authority Chairman John B. Rhea despite several contenders calling for him to step down.

Crystal Brown has lived in the Lincoln Houses for more than 40 years, piled up trash and unsanitary living conditions caused her to attend a candidate forum.

“The same way they want for us to vote for them now, they ain’t come to this neighborhood before this time,” she told CBS 2’s Don Champion.

The candidates listen to concerns from residents inside of a ‘cooling center’ that came complete with a broken air conditioner before taking a tour of the complex.

“As mayor I’m going to stand up for you, it’s what you deserve,” candidate Bill Thompson said.

Hosts told CBS 2’s Champion that the housing authority is often slow to act on repair requests and that the system needs changing.

“You paying the rent but still yet you can’t get what you need done and I pay my rent on time,” Barbara Gamble said.

Anthony Weiner said that he hoped to gain insight from the sleepover.

“When you’re in it and you live it, even for 24 hours it leaves an impact on you and these are folks no one has been paying attention to for too long,” he said.

Christine Quinn added that the needs of residents were not being acted on.

“From my point of view these concerns are not just being heard, they’re being taken in, they’re being digested, and I’m articulating real plans on how to respond to them,” the City Council Speaker said.

The sleepover is organized by the activist group Community Voices Heard. The Daily News reports that Rev. Al Sharpton is organizing the event at the Lincoln Houses on E. 135th St. in East Harlem.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories:

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)