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Housing advocates demand Cuomo allot $1 billion for NYCHA in state budget

“We do not need to support someone who is not supporting us,” Councilman Jumaane Williams warns.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) rallied with tenants and

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) rallied with tenants and housing advocates to demand Gov. Andrew Cuomo prioritize housing in the state budget outside his office located at 633 Third Ave. on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Photo Credit: Rajvi Desai

Tenants and housing advocates demanded Gov. Andrew Cuomo provide at least $1 billion for housing in the state budget, as they delivered petitions to his office in midtown Manhattan Tuesday.

Chanting “Cuomo, Cuomo, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side,” and “Fight, fight, fight, housing is a human right” on the sidewalk outside 633 Third Ave., dozens of protesters demanded Cuomo strengthen rent laws and expand funding for public housing across New York.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), who said the governor has favored property owners and developers over residents, rallied the crowd into chanting “No more status quo-mo.”

Reading aloud to the crowd a list of demands, tenant advocate Delsenia Glover asked Cuomo to protect tenants against harassment from landlords, expand housing court across the state, fully fund public housing authorities like NYCHA, and consider the so-called millionaires’ tax for addressing the state’s housing crisis.

“We saw Gov. Cuomo standing in a housing project a couple of weeks ago complaining about the conditions without fessing up to the fact that he is responsible for those conditions,” she said, referring to Cuomo’s visits to NYCHA developments this month.

New York City’s public housing, which has garnered infamy for its rodent infestations, mold, and heating and hot water outages, is in dire need of funds, the advocates said. They asked Cuomo to allot $1 billion toward NYCHA repairs in the state budget, which needs to be passed by April 1.

During a visit to NYCHA’s Forest Houses in the Bronx on March 22, Cuomo said that he would delay signing the state budget without a plan to make repairs in NYCHA developments. He blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration for the troubled state of NYCHA housing, and reiterated the need to hire an independent contractor for repairs to avoid the “bureaucracy.”

The de Blasio administration has accused Cuomo of not delivering on his promise of $300 million in funds for NYCHA, a majority of which has not been received by the city, according to Alicia Glen, the mayor’s deputy for housing and economic development.

In response to the back and forth between both politicians, NYCHA resident Agnes Rivera, of Community Voices Heard, said, “We are not your tool nor your game piece for you and the mayor. Cut it.”

Rivera, who said that her home in Senator Robert F. Wagner Houses in East Harlem is riddled with lead and asbestos, berated Cuomo for using tenants in a time when he “needs to impress,” referring to the gubernatorial race. Education activist and actress Cynthia Nixon is challenging Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor.

“Governor Cuomo truly wants to outdo the mayor,” she said. “Not on our backs. Our families are not toys.”

Williams, who called Albany a “gubernatorial mansion” that has completely failed tenants, augured the possibility of a change in leadership.

“You tenants will have a choice in the upcoming elections,” he said. “We do not need to support someone who is not supporting us.

“We have choices now.”

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