Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in the Bronx on Monday to check out deteriorating conditions in public housing firsthand amid his red-hot feud with Mayor Bill de Blasio over the state of public housing.
While de Blasio has been out of town the past few days in Texas and Washington D.C., the governor toured the Jackson Houses in the South Bronx and visited the apartment of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) resident Jeff Blyther.
"I don't even let people into my apartment, because you don't want to see all that," Blyther said.
Lawyers representing a group of residents who are suing the city's housing authority invited the governor.
Cuomo called what he saw inside "deplorable," and apologized to NYCHA residents.
"The unit is crumbling around them, and it is disgusting, it is uninhabitable, and it is just shocking," Cuomo said at a press conference outside the complex.
Cuomo and De Blasio, who are usually at odds, have been fighting lately over the state of public housing, for which the city is responsible. Cuomo has threatened to initiate an emergency declaration, which would allow the state to appoint a monitor and take over some of the operations at NYCHA.
A former federal housing secretary, this was Cuomo's first visit to NYCHA as governor.
"Yeah, I don't know where the mayor is, and that is none of my business. I got involved in Puerto Rico because it was an emergency in Puerto Rico," Cuomo said. "I'm getting involved with NYCHA because it is an emergency with NYCHA."
"As many of you know, the mayor is out of town," said City Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. "But the mayor has been out of town when it comes to the management of public housing."
Following Cuomo's visit, two top aides for the mayor held their own press conference at City Hall to answer the governor.
"He and some folks are conflating the notion of an emergency declaration with some magic cure-all, and that somehow by issuing an emergency declaration that, in essence, gives us the money he was supposed to give us a year-and-a-half ago, plus gives us what we've already asked for, for four years, which is design-build — I don't see how that is an emergency declaration; that's doing your job," Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said.
The governor is scheduled to meet with members of the city council in Albany on Tuesday. There, they will map out precisely what would be included in an emergency declaration.
The governor said if the city council and the mayor do not decide what they want, Cuomo himself will make a decision about what to do within two weeks.
Last week, Cuomo blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio in an interview on NY1 for not adequately addressing issues like lead paint, mold, and a lack of heat and hot water in NYCHA apartments.
Some tenants who spoke with NY1 felt the same way.
"I feel like they take it too easy, I feel like they don't have the need to rush like whenever they have the time they come and do it, that's just the way I feel they come and do it, they're not that concerned," said one NYCHA resident.
Broken boilers left many NYCHA residents in the cold this winter.
The mayor announced on Thursday that the city will expedite repairs.
The chair of the housing authority is also under fire for signing paperwork suggesting apartments underwent lead paint inspections, when they did not.