Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed Friday that the last thing Housing Authority residents want is a federal takeover — just before one resident called in to his radio show to contradict him.
“Ask the people who live in public housing if they’re comfortable looking to Washington for the day-to-day management of their buildings,” the mayor said on his weekly WNYC radio show during an extended discussion of the troubled New York City Housing Authority.
The mayor got his comeuppance when a lifelong resident of NYCHA’s Two Bridges development on the Lower East Side called in to the show imploring the feds to step in.
“I would love for another agency or the federal government to take over because I’ve been living there for 40 years and instead of getting better, it’s getting worse and worse and worse — so nothing is going to change,” said the female caller.
“How come under [de Blasio’s] watch NYCHA has gotten to such a bad stage — to the point that sometimes we don’t even have water to take a shower in these buildings.”
De Blasio pointed to declining federal resources as the culprit for NYCHA’s problems, even though it was his administration that falsely certified to the feds for years that annual inspections for lead paint were happening when they weren’t.
As the mayor was speaking, the nearly 3,900 residents at the Van Dyke Houses in Brooklyn had been without water since 4 a.m.
“Everyone has a right to their own opinion,” the mayor told the caller.
“If you’re talking about the federal government taking over our public housing and running it, well unfortunately, if you look at that history around the country, it’s a very mixed bag,” he added.
“How are people who live [at NYCHA] going to have any accountability if they can’t turn to local leaders for solutions?”
The mayor even portrayed NYCHA’s leadership under his watch as super-responsive — swooping in to resolve the countless crises as soon as they pop up.
He blamed disinvestment by prior local and federal administrations as the main cause of those crises.
“There’s been a lot of real important issues that were raised in the last couple of years and you’ve seen me, along with the chair and the general manager of NYCHA, responding to those concerns,” de Blasio said.
“There’s a heat problem — we went out and we got more mobile boilers and more mechanics … We just did all the roofs over to stop mold and leaks at the biggest housing developments.”
Last winter, more than 320,000 public housing tenants lost heat or hot water at some point.
This year, that figure has already topped 35,000.
A federal judge has raised the possibility of a federal receivership of NYCHA.
De Blasio met with HUD Secretary Ben Carson in Washington, DC, on Thursday, where they agreed that would be a bad idea, according to a source.
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