NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials spoke out after touring NYCHA‘s Andrew Jackson Houses in the Bronx Monday morning.
“The residents of public housing have been crying out for far too long,” said Danny Barber, chair of the Citywide Council of Presidents. “We will no longer be ignored. The residents of public housing have stood up… we will no longer take the injustices that are being pushed down to us.”
“We are the largest voting block of people here in the city of New York,” Barber said.
“This has been a profoundly informative visit in which we have had a chance to observe the terrible conditions in NYCHA housing,” said Howard Zucker, commissioner of Health for New York state. “These conditions are shameful, and potentially dangerous.”
“They put up the Mario Cuomo bridge in less time than it took to put four boilers in the Hamilton houses,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said. “We deserve better.”
“It’s clear there is a need for action,” said Zucker, adding he is calling on the governor to launch a full investigation of NYCHA.
“The situation that we’ve seen is as upsetting and disturbing as I’ve seen anywhere,” Cuomo said. “This situation is really intolerable. There are roaches, there are vermin, there are health safety issues.”
“It has nothing to do with the way the family is taking care of the unit, the unit is crumbling around them,” Cuomo said. “It is just shocking that in New York state that we would have people living in these conditions.
“This is simple: We know how to build housing. We know how to maintain housing. We know how to paint walls,” Cuomo said. “This is just a case of neglect, period.”
Cuomo said he wants a full inspection of the Andrew Jackson houses.
“Part of the problem is NYCHA’s management… the maze of bureaucracy,” Cuomo said. “We need an expedited mechanism that can actually come in and get the work done without waiting for the NYCHA bureaucracy.”
Cuomo said he would be soliciting suggestions from the City Council as for what they want from him in an emergency declaration. He said he would be meeting with them tomorrow.
“We need to make progress and we need to make progress quickly,” Cuomo said. “Any New York resident who walked through that unit would be outraged.”
“As many of you know, the mayor is out of town. But the mayor has been out of town when it comes to public housing,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres.
Cuomo toured the buildings the same day Mayor Bill de Blasio was in Texas attending the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas and then is headed to Washington. It also comes days after Cuomo was questioned about the response to the recent nor’easters which left thousands without power in Westchester County.
“I don’t know where the mayor is and that’s none of my business,” Cuomo said. “I want the City Council to tell me tomorrow what they want from the state.”
The governor is meeting with the City Council in Albany on Tuesday, and says he wants the council and the mayor to tell him what solutions they want from the state within two weeks or he’ll make the decision himself.
Late Monday the mayor issued a statement, saying in part: “Speaker Heastie and the State Assembly have the backs of the NYCHA tenants. Today, they passed a bill giving NYCHA full design-build authority that will speed up critical repairs by more than a year.”
“The rest of Albany needs to follow the Assembly’s lead: stop playing games and promoting gimmicks,” the statement continued. “Deliver the key investments and reforms NYCHA tenants are waiting for.”