De Blasio’s tragic decision to back-burner NYCHA

After months of news about criminal mismanagement, decaying projects and massive funding woes plaguing New York’s public housing, you’d think Team de Blasio’s record couldn’t look any worse when it comes to the city Public Housing Authority. Guess again.

Politico New York last week suggested something even more alarming: a deliberate administration choice to sacrifice public housing for the sake of other political goals. The report rings all too true.

New York City Housing Authority buildings “have rarely topped the priority list,” Politico found. “Only now,” in the wake of scandals and public focus on NYCHA’s horrific living conditions, are Mayor de Blasio’s folks embracing “policies that could have made a difference years ago.”

The piece blasts de Blasio in particular for refusing “to challenge unions over work rules that impact building maintenance” and for resisting private development on city land, which could gin up significant new cash for badly needed repairs.

It also hits Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen for leaving NYCHA out of her affordable-housing plan and prioritizing private-development projects instead.

Public housing has always been “kind of a stepchild,” Legal Aid Society lawyer Judith Goldiner explains. Any NYCHA homes the city repairs aren’t included in the 300,000 units the mayor promised to “create or preserve,” and City Hall is “very, very focused on that” rather than on NYCHA.

Mind you, de Blasio and his staff were the ones who decided NYCHA work wouldn’t count toward his affordable-housing goals — even though these units are the prime housing stock for the city’s lowest-income residents.

Glen denies short-shrifting public housing, noting that she even dragged her daughter “to make cupcakes” to raise funds for the agency. Perceptions to the contrary, she insists, are at least partly the fault of “every obnoxious, sh– ty, awful reporter playing gotcha.”

Please. But how much of a priority were NYCHA’s 400,000 residents when vital lead inspections weren’t being done, while officials lied about it? Or when 80 percent of tenants were left without heat last winter?

Rather than treat NYCHA’s woes as a crisis, City Hall derailed agency then-boss Shola Olatoye’s bid to ease union work rules and fire key staffers.

The mayor also shunned a Bloomberg-era plan to offer unused NYCHA land to the private sector, which could’ve raised bundles of cash for the agency. For the sites Team de Blasio did hand over, it required housing built there to be “affordable,” limiting revenue for NYCHA. And the city was slow to tap a big stream of federal funding, because that meant allowing private-sector management of NYCHA buildings.

As Politico notes, de Blasio claims to champion the poor and minorities, yet they’re largely NYCHA’s very tenants — and he made them second to his political agenda. Some champion indeed.

Source: Read Full Article