Before Public Advocate Letitia James heads to Albany as the state's next attorney general, she had one last thing to do.
"Clearly, the residents are not getting any help, and this year in particular we've seen more and more complaints, more and more tickets not being resolved, more and more repairs not being addressed," James said. "That's why we decided to put NYCHA on the worst landlord list, because it just seems things are getting worse."
She released her annual worst landlords' watch list Wednesday. Topping the list for the first time, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA):
(For the first time, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has topped Public Advocate Letitia James's list of the worst landlords in the city. Photo courtesy of New York City Public Advocate website).
The public advocate showed us why, she said, NYCHA is the worst landlord in the city.
She visited Vera Robinson, who has lived in the Saint Nicholas Houses in Harlem for decades. When we walked into her apartment, the smell of mold wafted down the hall.
(Mold in Vera Robinson's apartment in the Saint Nicholas Houses in Harlem. Zoe Slemmons/NY1).
"The water came down again," Robinson said. "Nobody did anything."
A leak from upstairs spilled into her apartment in June. Six months later, paint peels in the closet, the walls appear to bulge, and there is a hole in the bedroom.
(Paint peeling in in Vera Robinson's apartment. Zoe Slemmons/NY1).
(The walls appear to bulge in the apartment after the leak. Zoe Slemmons/NY1).
(A hole in the bedroom after the leak. Zoe Slemmons/NY1).
"You can see the conditions in this apartment, they haven't been addressed," James said.
"I feel bad. I feel bad. I feel like I'm left alone," Robinson said.
Ironically, it was Bill de Blasio who started this worst landlord list back in 2010, when he was public advocate. Eight years later, he leads the landlord that tops it.
"I also say it's her right with her office to do as she sees fit," the mayor said. "I wouldn't have done it, but I understand it."
When asked about the ranking on Wednesday, the mayor said NYCHA was different than bad actor private landlords.
"The landlords on that watch list are not investing in their buildings, are trying to evade their responsibilities," de Blasio said. "Everyone here is addressing the problem."
Tell that to Vera Robinson. "I just want it fixed, that's all. Just like they want their money," she said. "I pay my rent on time."
A spokesperson from NYCHA sent us a statement saying these conditions tenants live with, day in and out, are a result of decades of mismanagement. She said NYCHA officials hope they can work with their partners in Washington to try to rebuild the housing authority.