“The NYCHA residents have recently and effectively organized to publicize the current deplorable conditions in NYCHA housing and commenced a lawsuit. They invited me to view the conditions and intervene because they feel the local government has been non-responsive. I accepted the tenants’ invitation to tour NYCHA facilities and I stand firmly with the residents. I have been through NYCHA housing many times over many years. It is much, much worse than anything I have ever seen before. There is no doubt the tenants are right and the conditions have gotten much, much worse recently. They know because they live there, and they are right. The conditions are disgusting. There are significant health and safety hazards at these facilities, and I have directed the New York State Department of Health to commence an investigation immediately to assess the violations.
“The facts here are important and not to be confused by the political blather. There are 150 public housing authorities in the state and they are entirely locally managed and controlled. The State has no financial or management role whatsoever. The State does have legal authority to safeguard the public health and safety of all state residents. Despite the fact that we have no legal or financial responsibility for public housing operations, we have made $300 million available to NYCHA given the City’s neglect. It is an historic precedent. We funded $100 million previously and recently dedicated another $200 million.
“However, money is not now the answer. The problem is NYCHA incompetence because they cannot effectively or quickly spend the money, and the situation is critical and urgent. NYCHA informed us that it would take 3 or 4 years to spend the money and make the repairs. That is a nonstarter. We don’t need $200 million to sit on a shelf. We need immediate progress and solutions, not press release progress or political finger pointing. I want a solution for the children of NYCHA now.
“I am asking the Mayor, State Legislatureand City Council to work cooperatively to fashion an effective approach. We need a new vehicle to make repairs immediately. It will require a combination of efforts. Design-build legislation can help if it is coupled with an effective construction management organization removed from the NYCHA bureaucracy. An emergency declaration will allow the appointment of such an independent agent. The State will authorize the emergency declaration, and I look to the Mayor, City Council and State Assembly to recommend that independent mechanism. I will meet with the City Council and will ask them directly. I have also asked the Mayor’s office for their recommendation or to join with the City Council in a joint recommendation. I have also asked the State Assembly for their input.
“If they do not make any progress by April 1, the budget deadline, I will put forth a solution but believe the decision is better left to local authorities. Once an independent mechanism is chosen and we know money will be spent in a timely way—not 3 to 4 years—the State will make $200 million available immediately.
“I have discussed this plan with the tenants and their lawyers and they are in full agreement that this is the best way to proceed. As I said, I stand with the tenants as it is their children who are being abused and their voice should govern.”