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Cuomo won’t sign state budget without ‘real remedy’ for NYCHA repairs

The governor called for an outside contractor as de Blasio accused him of hypocrisy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tours the Forest Houses in

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tours the Forest Houses in the Bronx on Thursday. Photo Credit: Flickr / Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday threatened to delay signing the state budget without a plan to fix conditions in New York City’s public housing, including moldy walls, broken boilers, untested lead paint and rodent infestations.

The visit — his third to a development in less than two weeks — prompted the mayor’s office to accuse the governor of “lying” and political opportunism at tenants’ expense.

Likening the plight of the New York City Housing Authority’s 400,000 tenants to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, the governor renewed a demand for an independent contractor to make needed repairs.

“This hand will not sign the state budget unless there is a real remedy that is going to make the repairs at NYCHA — and make them in real time,” Cuomo said after touring a dilapidated unit in the Bronx’s Forest Houses. “No more talking. No more bureaucracy. No more politicians covering the rear end of other politicians.”

New York State’s fiscal year starts April 1 and ends March 31.

Earlier this month, after Cuomo’s prior two project visits, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s deputy for housing and economic development, Alicia Glen, criticized Cuomo for failing to release already-allocated funds for NYCHA.

Although the state isn’t obliged to fund public housing, Cuomo has promised hundreds of millions of dollars. Glen said that the city has not received more than $200 million of a promised $300 million.

De Blasio spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said the governor’s claims — including that NYCHA hasn’t spent the money it has already — are misleading or inaccurate.

“We understand the governor’s obsession with the mayor has prevented him from learning how NYCHA funding works, but the truth is NYCHA is spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to fill the hole left by state and federal underinvestment,” she wrote in an email. “Instead of lying about the facts to feed his political obsession, the governor should give NYCHA tenants the money he has promised and refuses to deliver.”

Lapeyrolerie’s email kicked off a volley of tweets by the governor’s senior staff, including his top aide Melissa DeRosa, who ridiculed the mayor’s out-of-town travel and “grueling gym schedule” while being “nowhere to found.”

On Wednesday, de Blasio faulted Cuomo for “hypocrisy” and a “political opportunistic act” — appearing at housing projects without giving money for the repairs.

“The hypocrisy is the governor is getting his photo op but is not handing over the money,” the mayor told SiriusXM satellite radio. “I would say, ‘put your money where your mouth is and give us the money you already owe us.’”

Standing outside the Bronx project Thursday, Cuomo said he’s hesitant to give more money to the city because, he says, the agency’s management is incompetent.

Asked later at City Hall whether the governor was visiting the projects in good faith or simply for a “photo op,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) said: “Let’s see what’s in the state budget.”

At a council hearing last month, agency officials came under scrutiny for revelations about the projects, such as 143,000 out of 175,000 units having suffered heat or hot water outages this heating season, which means 320,000 out of about 400,000 residents, or about 80 percent.

NYCHA was also criticized following the disclosure that the head of the authority, Shola Olatoye, had falsely told the federal government that lead-paint inspections mandated by law had been conducted.

Olatoye, who has overseen NYCHA for de Blasio since the administration took office in 2014, has noted in council testimony that the problems have long predated her tenure and federal subsidies have dwindled, leaving localities scrambling to make up the shortfall.

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