NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio escalate their war of words over who should fix public housing, a Bushwick woman just wants her apartment fixed.
CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer took an exclusive look inside the plight of this New York City Housing Authority resident, whose apartment is filled with rust, mold, peeling paint and what she calls a bathroom the mayor wouldn’t let his dog live in.
“Why is it that we have to live like this?” Tabitha Rivera wondered.
It’s a simple question for the mayor from a woman living in the Bushwick Houses, whose apartment is a testament to city neglect, Kramer reported.
“He probably wouldn’t even let his dog live the way we live right now,” Rivera said.
The kitchen has rusty pipes, moldy ceilings from water leaks, peeling paint and holes in the floor. They have to push the furniture against the walls in the living room to keep the kids from eating the paint chips.
In the bathroom, layers of paint fall into the bathtub, there’s no top on the toilet, and there a pipe so rusty that layers of crud hang off and fall on people.
“It’s disgusting. I don’t even allow people to come visit us, because if they ever had to use our restroom it’s embarrassing,” said Rivera.
Rivera, who’s pregnant and due in a few weeks, says she has tried, unsuccessfully, to have NYCHA fix the apartment for 10 years. She tried withholding rent, but that didn’t work. She has filed numerous repair tickets, but says the city sends people to assess the problem and they never come back to fix them.
“I’ve literately watched a man shake my wall into two pieces and say that it was structurally sound,” she said.
People are living like this, while the mayor and the governor play the blame game.
De Blasio erupted on a radio show Friday after Cuomo said he might declare a NYCHA state of emergency.
“The state has not provided us with the funding from several budgets ago,” the mayor said. “Under this governor… there’s a lot of talk about helping public housin gresidents, but we don’t see real resources.”
A spokesperson for the governor said the mayor is wrong – the state just poured $300 million into NYCHA, even though the city is responsible for its public housing stock.
“The mayor’s instinct is always to point fingers, but he needs to start governing and taking responsibility,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “He should stop worrying about the politics and start worrying about the people. There is one person responsible for NYCHA. He has 100 percent control. And his name is Bill de Blasio.”
As for Rivera, CBS2 demanded answers and may be getting action.
“Our residents deserve clean, decent homes. We are sending staff to make repairs as soon as possible,” NYCHA said in a statement.
We’ll see, because we will be back, Kramer reported.
After CBS2’s call, NYCHA sent a team to the apartment. While the painter said he couldn’t do anything until the plaster team came, they did fix two broken windows and the fire alarm and installed missing window guards.