A war of words over how to solve the homeless problem has been simmering between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo. On Tuesday, the two leaders exchanged barbs through surrogates and members of their staff, but as NY1's Zack Fink reports, the Governor is also being attacked by a State Assemblyman from his own party, which is unusual.
Homelessness has soared in the city, and the governor and the mayor have clashed over what to do about it. With that backdrop, advocates and clergy members held a rally at City Hall calling on Governor Cuomo to support 15,000 units of supportive housing in New York City, plus another 5000 units elsewhere in the State.
If so, it would bring the total to 35,000 with the State matching the 15,000 units the mayor committed to last month.
"That's more than the city has ever done before," said Brooklyn City Councilman Stephen Levin. "That is more than any mayor has ever stepped up to the plate to do ever before. We need our Governor."
But while it wasn't out of the ordinary for members of the City Council, many of whom are aligned with the Mayor, to stand up and criticize the Governor, it was striking to see a Democratic member of the Assembly taking shots at the Governor of the same party.
"The fact remains that he has been doing a terrible job when it comes to taking care of poor individuals and people in need," said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi. "And the homeless."
Hevesi chairs the Social Services Committee in the State Assembly. His father, former City Comptroller Alan Hevesi, was prosecuted for corruption by Cuomo when the governor served as State Attorney General.
It's a connection the Cuomo administration was quick to make a veiled reference to in this response.
"Criticizing the Governor may make Hevesi popular at Sunday dinner with dad, but it shows he has no idea what he is talking about," a statement from the Governor read.
"I have not personally met with the Governor," Hevesi said. "He and I are not close."
As a war of words between the governor and the mayor escalated over the homeless issue, a spokesperson for Cuomo recently said the mayor cannot manage the homeless crisis.
"The Governor's response over the last couple of weeks has been a little bit distressing," Hevesi said. "First, he said we need to have management experience. He's backed off on that when we have brought his own management into question."
Governor Cuomo has vowed to address the homeless crisis in his State of the State address. Like last year, this year he will combine it with his budget message. The two-in-one speech will be held January 13.