De Blasio vs. Cuomo: Ex-HUD Heads Spar Over NYCHA Funds


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo have more than just a home state in common, they both were former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) leaders during the Bill Clinton Administration.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Mayor Bill de Blasio

Cuomo served as a former  HUD Secretary under the Clinton Administration starting in 1997.

De Blasio, that same year, was appointed to serve as the regional director of HUD for New York and New Jersey under the leadership of Cuomo.

The former allies now seem to have opposing views on the funding source for the embattled New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), that has been rocked by a series of scandals.

The embattled authority has been fighting multiple controversies in recent months related to fraudulent lead inspections and a heating crisis that left  some 320,000 of the 390,000 public housing residents without heat or hot water this past Winter.

In addition, just last month, New York City public housing residents sued the authority alleging “years of neglect” and “systemic violations of the law.”

The Mayor claims the authority’s ability to provide proper housing lies in additional funding from the state. Back in March, he called on state legislators to release funds aimed at improving the quality of life for the 390,000 public housing residents.

“The rest of Albany needs to follow the Assembly’s lead: stop playing games and promoting gimmicks. Deliver the key investments and reforms NYCHA tenants are waiting for,” said de Blasio.

However, Cuomo was quick to note that the agency’s the lack of management abilities and not funding, is creating havoc for residents. In particular, Cuomo cited the $200 million investment over four years, ending in 2022, by the Mayor as a sign of incompetence by the city.

“Money is not now the answer. The problem is NYCHA incompetence because they cannot effectively or quickly spend the money, and the situation is critical and urgent. NYCHA informed us that it would take 3 or 4 years to spend the money and make the repairs. That is a nonstarter. We don’t need $200 million to sit on a shelf. We need immediate progress and solutions, not press release progress or political finger-pointing. I want a solution for the children of NYCHA now,” said Cuomo.

De Blasio claims the Governor is using the NYCHA crisis to bolster his campaign as he is up for re-election this year, calling his public housing tours, an opportunistic act,” according to the New York Post.

However, most recently, Cuomo pledged an additional $250 million in state funding for cleaning up NYCHA’s public safety emergency. The new commitment brings the total state funding from the 2019 Fiscal Budget to $550 million.

And here’s my proposal for public housing – no more talking. No more pointing fingers. It’s time for action. New York State will pledge $550 million to clean up public housing which is the largest commitment in the state’s history. There 150 housing authorities in the state, we don’t give any of them significant funding. That’s federal and that’s local. But NYCHA’s different. It’s a public emergency. It’s a public safety emergency and we’re going to step up and we’re going to give them $550 million, said Cuomo.