When Bill de Blasio first ran for City Hall in 2013, he promised to end the so-called "Tale of Two Cities."
A little more than five years after making that vow, he's handing over critical oversight to the federal government for the city's vast public housing system. It's clear evidence of the mayor's failure to turn around New York City Housing Authority, known as NYCHA, which is home to 400,000 New Yorkers.
In fact, conditions at NYCHA were considered so bad that in December, then-Public Advocate Letitia James put the public housing authority at the top of her office's list of the city's worst landlords.
"Clearly the residents are not getting any help," James said at the time. "That's why we decided to put NYCHA on the worst landlord's list because it seems that things are just getting worse."
De Blasio first created the worst landlords list when was Public Advocate. His record at NYCHA came under fire from a wide array of critics, including federal prosecutors and residents who said they were desperate for help.
De Blasio has argued that the city has had such a hard time addressing chronic problems like mold, lead paint, and heat and hot water failures because of shrinking financial support from the federal government. But Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District, has said NYCHA's problems are not just financial.
"These conditions exist not because of any loss of federal funding, but because NYCHA was a dysfunction operation and is fundamentally flawed," Berman said in June.
NY1 held a live town hall meeting on the city's public housing authority in September. The audience was filled with frustrated residents.
"It is the mayor who appoints the chairperson of NYCHA and the people who sit on the board," said one woman in the crowd who spoke. "It is that chair and the board who have allowed NYCHA to go to hell for the last couple of years."
While there's no question funding has been a significant challenge, it does not account for all the problems on de Blasio's watch. The agency's track record on lead paint is just one example. NYCHA failed to conduct mandatory lead paint inspections for years. When children were found to have dangerously elevated lead levels, NYCHA tried to fight the results.
De Blasio may insist that he is teaming up with the Trump Administration to get the best results for public housing residents. But, in reality, he had little choice in the matter.
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