NEW YORK (AP) — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio promises to speed up $24 billion worth of urgent repairs at the nation’s biggest public housing system — against a Jan. 31 deadline.
Late Friday, the mayor issued a statement saying the city is working with the federal government toward a plan “to improve the quality of life for the 400,000 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home,” referring to the New York City Housing Authority.
Earlier Friday, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said New York must come up with what he called an “acceptable” plan by the end of January to keep the government in Washington from taking over and managing New York’s public housing.
For decades, residents have complained about unhealthy, persistent conditions that are ignored such as rats and roaches, lead paint, mold, broken heating systems and water leaks.
The mayor’s vow to launch a more aggressive plan for renovations comes just weeks after a New York judge rejected a $2 billion deal between NYCHA and federal prosecutors to settle lawsuits over resident complaints. The judge ordered that papers be submitted by midnight Friday describing how the crumbling housing would be fixed and saved.
Late Friday night, with just hours left, the documents were ready, asking for another 45 days to complete a full status report.
“This filing is another step on the road to fixing NYCHA,” de Blasio said. “This has been a week of real reform in our efforts to turn NYCHA around after decades of neglect.”
The mayor said a new labor agreement will bring seven-day custodial services to New York’s public housing for the first time in half a century. Tens of thousands of apartments are to be renovated, and “we are putting new management fixes in place to hold NYCHA more accountable to its residents.”
De Blasio and Carson reportedly have never paid an official visit to a New York City public housing development.
Lynne Patton, the federal housing department’s regional administrator, has said on Twitter that she supported a federal takeover because “NYCHA has proven time & time again that it neither possesses the capacity, nor integrity, to run or fix itself.”
In a radio interview on Friday morning, de Blasio took the opposite stand, saying, “Let’s be clear: Anyone who thinks oversight by anybody but local officials is going to make things better, I urge people to look at the history.”