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Release: Cuomo proposes $250 million for NYC Housing Authority improvements. Release, transcript, Youtube videos included. Tenants in 'NYCHA housing deserve better than what they're getting from their elected leaders.'
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Text of press releases.

For Immediate Release: 3/17/2018
GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO



GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL $250 MILLION INVESTMENT TO DELIVER QUALITY LIVING CONDITIONS TO NYCHA TENANTS IN NEW YORK CITY

In Response to Calls from Tenants, Governor's Proposed Investment Will Address Health and Safety Hazards and is Contingent on Selection of Independent Construction Manager to Ensure Accountability

Announcement Builds on Record $300 Million in State Funding Already Committed to NYCHA


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an additional $250 million investment will be proposed for inclusion in the State Budget to support the New York City Housing Authority where an independent construction manager is selected. Although the state has no legal obligation to fund NYCHA, it has already committed a record $300 million to the Authority. The $250 million of additional proposed funding is in response to the tenant requests calling for an independent construction manager separate from NYCHA, tenant oversight of projects and additional funding for NYCHA due to insufficient federal and city funding. This investment will support improvements needed at NYCHA buildings, including securing heat and hot water for families that have gone weeks without these necessities, and the removal of decades-old mold and lead paint.

"At one time, NYCHA was the model of public housing, and now conditions are at the worst they've ever been. Tenants living in these intolerable, inhumane conditions need help now - not in four years, and this administration is taking action to ensure a brighter future for New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "The men, women and children living in NYCHA housing deserve better than what they're getting from their elected leaders, and with the selection of an independent construction manager and a record $250 million state investment, we will deliver the support needed for families to lead quality, healthy lives in New York City."

This additional state commitment comes just weeks after a state inspection lead the Governor to direct the Commissioner of Health Dr. Zucker to conduct a formal investigation into NYCHA for health and safety hazards. Public health hazards that have been neglected by city officials and were found during the inspection, include mold and potential lead paint. In addition to these hazardous conditions, and despite $300 million in state funding currently dedicated to NYCHA, city officials previously determined that it will take up to four years to replace the failing boilers, which have left many NYCHA tenants without heat or hot water throughout the cold winter months.

Lawyer for the Citywide Council of Presidents Jim Walden, of Walden, Macht & Haran said, "The tenants spoke out clearly and the first person to answer our call was Governor Cuomo. He has embraced our core goals of having an independent contractor repair dilapidated NYCHA apartments and buildings, and giving tenants a seat at the table and the jobs they deserve and are entitled to under federal law. And now today after the City and Federal governments have clearly failed to adequately fund NYCHA, the Governor is responding to our request by pledging an additional 250 million dollars in top of the 300 million dollars he had already pledged. I am dumbstruck on behalf of the entire New York City Housing Authority community at Governor Cuomo's decisive action and there is no possible way we could thank him enough."

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For Immediate Release: 3/17/2018
GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO



VIDEO, AUDIO & RUSH TRANSCRIPT: GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL $250 MILLION INVESTMENT TO DELIVER QUALITY LIVING CONDITIONS TO NYCHA TENANTS IN NEW YORK CITY

In Response to Calls from Tenants, Governor's Proposed Investment Will Address Health and Safety Hazards and is Contingent on Selection of Independent Construction Manager to Ensure Accountability

Announcement Builds on Record $300 Million in State Funding Already Committed to NYCHA


Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an additional $250 million investment will be proposed for inclusion in the State Budget to support the New York City Housing Authority where an independent construction manager is selected. Although the state has no legal obligation to fund NYCHA, it has already committed a record $300 million to the Authority. The $250 million of additional proposed funding is in response to the tenant requests calling for an independent construction manager separate from NYCHA, tenant oversight of projects and additional funding for NYCHA due to insufficient federal and city funding. This investment will support improvements needed at NYCHA buildings, including securing heat and hot water for families that have gone weeks without these necessities, and the removal of decades-old mold and lead paint.

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here

B-ROLL of the Governor touring a tenant's home at the Taft Houses is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on Governor Cuomo's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available below:

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Good afternoon to all of you. Let's have a big round of applause for Danny Barber. He's a great leader. He's upset with me. He didn't like me saying that "big boy." I didn't mean big boy in any other way than a very powerful, heavily muscled man. That's what I meant by big boy. And he is a powerful, heavily muscled man, and he's going to lead this effort to victory, you watch. Give him another round of applause. To Jim Walden, who really wrote a very powerful lawsuit, I applaud him and his representation. He told the story very well.

First, I want to say to all of you, as the chief representative of the people of the State of New York, I am sorry for the conditions that you are dealing with. I am telling you that no respectable New Yorker would take a walk through that apartment and allow it to continue. New Yorkers are better than this. We are better than this. Housing is not rocket science. You know, we're not trying to solve the Russia hacking problem here. Housing is simple. We know how to build housing. We know how to maintain it. It's a question of political will and it's a question of priorities. You maintain it, you clean it, you improve it, if you want to, if you care. And if you don't care, you don't. And what NYCHA is a testament to, or a monument to, is people not caring.

Now Danny said, he was emotional - he mentioned a tale of two cities. My father was a great Governor named Mario Cuomo. He did a speech at a Democratic Convention where he spoke about the tale of two cities. And the tale of two cities means there's one city for the rich and the powerful and there's another city for the poor and the voiceless. And those two cities are real. And those two cities exist. And in one city for the rich and the powerful, they have the best housing, the best transportation, the best education, the best rights, the best assets you can buy. But then there's another city which is the forgotten city where the poor live who don't make big contributions to political campaigns, who can't hire the fancy lawyers, and they're forgotten.

NYCHA is the city of the poor. NYCHA is the plight of the poor. Do you think if you had wealthy and powerful residents in NYCHA units they would have ever allowed it to get to this condition? Do you think it's a coincidence that they day before I show up the City shows up to clean up the garbage? Do you think it's a coincidence that last week when we went and visited an apartment that was hell-- it was hell-- and the next day the city showed up and now it's a brand new apartment? Well if that's what it's going to take to fix an apartment, if that's what it's going to take to clean up a NYCHA unit, I will show up at every NYCHA unit in the city of New York.

Now as Danny explained, I've been working housing all my life. I'm an old man now but I started in my twenties building affordable housing all over the city of New York. And then I spent eight years, I was in President Bill Clinton's cabinet as the Head of HUD, Secretary of HUD and had access to public housing all across this nation. Literally every state in this nation. I've been there and I've been through their public housing. The conditions I've seen here in NYCHA are some of the worst I have seen anywhere and the shame is NYCHA at one time was the model of public housing. It was the best. It's gone from the best to the worst. That's what's happened at NYCHA. Mayor LaGuardia, a great mayor. When he started public housing he said "I'm opening up a new life for people where dreams can thrive." You now have buildings of misery. Taft Houses where the heat goes out on Christmas Eve. It's like a bad Dickens novel. You have the heat still going on and off. You have children living with asthma in units with mold. This is New York City, it's not a third world country.

Now the way public housing works as Danny explained, it's a federal program that is run by the City of New York. The state, unfortunately, has no role in the ownership or the management. I wish I did. Because then I'd promise you change would come and change would come quickly. To the federal government, I say to Mr. Trump, you promised to make America great again. I want you to visit NYCHA housing and tell me if you made America great again. I want you to tell me if you're committing the resources to let people live in what this nation promised. 1949. You know the promise of the nation in 1949? Safe, clean, decent housing for every American. That was 1949. I want President Trump to come look at the unit I just looked at and say, is that, safe, clean decent housing? Take a walk through a NYCHA complex and tell me Mr. President is that safe, clean decent housing? And when you're giving a tax cut to the richest Americans, did you think of taking care of the people who are living in public housing? That's what Mr. Trump has to live with.

And I want to say to the City of New York, they are responsible for the management of these units. And I want to applaud Councilman Ritchie Torres who's this young, good looking fellow to my left. Councilmen Torres, I have a good looking fellow to my right too. Councilman Torres, in many ways exposed the problems in public housing because he, in the other city, in the tale of two cities, nobody comes and nobody sees and nobody cares. So you needed somebody to stand up and say I'm going to bring a light to what's going on at NYCHA and Councilman Torres did that and he did hearings. He brought NYCHA to the hearings and they couldn't answer any of the questions. Is there lead paint in the units? I don't know. Did you take the lead paint out of the units? I don't know. How long is it going to take you to fix a unit? I don't know. How long has the heat been out? I don't know. How many units have been without heat? I don't know. Well they should know. He brought attention to the matter. When I met with him and members of the City Council I said now you've got to take step two. You know what step two is? Do something about it. Do something about it. Government is about action. Government is about results. You exposed the problem? Now fix it. You all want to give a speech about how you're great progressives and New York is the progressive Capitol of the nation. No it's not when you have people living in the filth that we have at NYCHA. You're hypocrites if that's what you call progressive. Progressive is actually doing something about it.

Now what can the state do? I stand with you 100 percent - 100 percent. Because you are the tale of two cities and I have been with you all my life. Following in my father's footsteps. Following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton. Government is supposed to serve the people who are forgotten first, and those are the people of NYCHA. I hear MR. Walden's requests - I agree to all of them. Number one, you need an independent contractor to do the work because NYCHA cannot. They admitted it. When they say it's going to take four years to make change - four years? Four years, no heat? Four years, more mold? Four years more of asthma? Forget it, it's a non-starter. I said to my colleagues in the state government, "You want to give money to NYCHA? You think that's going to turn on the heat?" You know what would be a better use of $200 million? Get a big $200 million of cash, put it in a barrel, put it in the lobby, light it on fire - at least it would create some heat for the building. That would be a better way than giving the money to NCYHA.

Get an independent contractor who is a professional, who knows how to do it. That's how we do it on the state side. We're building a new airport, we're building bridges, we're building the train stations. I don't have government doing it. We go out, we get the best private contractor who knows how to do it and they do it fast and they do it right. And we know NYCHA is not the best, most efficient, most effective way to do it otherwise they would have done it. You look at the half repairs that they do in these units. It's a disgrace. So I agree with you, we need an independent contractor. I agree with you that you have to have a voice at the table. You are tenants who pay rent and we see what has happened when you're not at the table. You don't need a bunch of bureaucrats making decisions about your life and your family. You know what the priority projects are. You should be part of the process to select the contractor, prioritize the projects and oversee the projects, because it's your life, your kids and your future and you're paying the rent. And then Mr. Walden asked me to put up more money. I was afraid Mr. Walden was going to do that because that's what lawyers always do. They always ask for more money. Here's the situation. As I said, the federal programs runs the program. The city manages it. The state has no role. Despite that, the state has already pledged $200 million when we have a way to actually make it effective. We have 150 housing authorities in the state. 150. New York City has one. Buffalo has one. Rochester has one, et cetera. We never give any significant money to the housing authority. It's always the federal government and the city. But I'm going to fight the legislature to make an exception for NYCHA. Because the best way to lead is by leadership. And even though the state has no financial responsibility, I'm going to fight for another $250 million for NYCHA residents because I want to say to this federal government and this city government it's time to lead. And show the void and show the vacuum and the lack of leadership. So we get an independent contractor. You are at the table.

I'll fight for another $250 million. I can't do that on my own. I have to fight something called the New York State legislature. Many of the members are here now so I want to be nice about them. But as long as I have, let me just get one vote. Do you support the $250 million? There we go. I have Robert Rodriguez. Where are you, Robert? Do you support the $250 million? Okay. I have two votes. We need about another 150. But we're gonna get them. We're gonna get them. Independent contractor, your voice at the table. We'll pledge more money as a way to say to this city and this federal government: remember the tale of two cities and remember that New York City was always about lifting those who were in the other city. And there is no New Yorker who would allow these conditions to continue. But your voice has to continue. Danny Barber is exactly right. Jim Walden is only as strong as you. You are 400,000 people. You want to get the attention of the politicians. You say 400,000. You want to get these newspapers to start writing the truth and start writing about the other city? You say we're 400,000 people and we buy your newspapers too. You want to get people to support you? Expose the conditions and the truth will get out. There is no one who will see what I saw and allow it to continue.

Thank you and God bless you.

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