By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
As you drive into New York City across the George Washington Bridge and then south down the West Side Highway you can see huge cranes and glittering new buildings being built. You can be sure that these constructions are for the very well off and not middle income residents.
A tale of two cities indeed.
In part, Bill de Blasio was elected mayor because he promised to do better than his recent predecessors on the matter of decent affordable housing. During his 2013 campaign de Blasio vowed to create some 200,000 units during his two terms. He is way behind schedule. In fact when one calculates the loss of rent-regulated housing each year at about 10,000 units, NYC has made little progress during the mayor’s entire first term of office.
And then there is the New York City federally funded Housing Authority.
NYCHA is public housing reserved for those persons or families with low incomes. But just because you may be poor doesn’t mean you should be neglected.
That is probably a phrase that candidate de Blasio would have uttered during his campaigns. But as they say, talk is cheap.
Last year it was revealed that NYCHA failed to do required annual inspections and subsequent corrective actions for lead based paint. Worse still, NYCHA officials lied about it and covered up the neglect.
It has been common scientific and medical knowledge for decades that when ingested especially by children, lead will cause all kinds of health problems including mental retardation, learning disabilities as well as serious physical ailments.
Nonetheless the de Blasio administration knowing about these serious lapses in inspections looked the other way, did nothing about it for years, and kept placing families into potentially toxic environments. Only now are they owning up to this deceit. And just this week the city comptroller reported that NYCHA management has not done adequate planning to upgrade boilers and hot water heaters for their apartments in a number of projects during this frigid winter, leading to serious heat outages. And City Hall is either unaware or unconcerned about this.
Our homeless population has increased during de Blasio’s time as mayor, resulting in the largest shelter census in history. Many of the shelters continue to be deplorable, unsafe and unsanitary places. It is little wonder that so many unfortunate people choose to live on the streets rather than in an NYC shelter.
There is little evidence to suggest that these problems have improved during the de Blasio tenure.
Meanwhile, the mayor indicates that he will not be home as much in these next few years. Instead he will be traveling to support progressive causes and candidates around the country. Better if he were to keep his attention on his constituents in his own backyard in need of his help.
When Bill de Blasio was first sworn in as mayor four years ago and later moved into Gracie Mansion, the fences surrounding the residence were raised to above eye level. One must wonder whether that has obscured the mayor’s vision and kept him from seeing what is actually happening on the streets of New York City.