Despite facing felony corruption charges, Assemblymember Pamela Harris (D-Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights) last week reemerged to take part in the people’s business.
Harris announced she helped pass the Assembly’s 2018-19 state budget proposal which allocates substantial funding to address issues facing New Yorkers living in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings.
“With a large number of our neighbors living in public and subsidized housing, it’s essential that we invest in NYCHA and other initiatives that promote affordability,” said Harris. “For too long NYCHA residents have been forced to endure difficult living conditions, as many have gone without heat or other basic necessities. Our proposal makes it clear that we will not accept this. We must fight for the resources our communities need to live safely and comfortably.”
The Assembly plan provides $200 million in funding for NYCHA to ensure residents have adequate heating, provide for weatherization upgrades and to make other critical maintenance upgrades. Additionally, the proposal calls for NYCHA to complete a yearly report on actions being taken to prevent lead-based paint poisoning and to submit a plan on how they will continue to ensure no families are put at risk.
Harris also noted that the budget proposal she helped pass would make important investments in Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NNORCs), allocating $2 million for initiatives to help residents maintain their independence and improve their quality of life. The budget proposal also restores $500,000 in funding for the Community Services for the Elderly Program, which works to ensure seniors can stay in their homes.
Harris’ announcement comes as she faces 11 counts of federal felony corruption charges including two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of making false statements, two counts of bankruptcy fraud, one count of witness tampering and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
As American law holds that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, Harris, like past lawmakers in similar situations, is likely to hold her seat until a possible conviction, in which she would be forced to give up her seat to serve jail time.
Harris could even run for re-election this year if her case is not decided come election time. While, winning re-election while facing felony charges is not unprecedented, Harris faces long odds of being re-elected.
Besides representing one of the most politically active districts in the borough, Harris will likely have trouble raising funds for a re-election campaign. According to the latest state campaign finance records, she has a paltry $564 on hand in her campaign war chest.