Bloomberg: ‘We’re Not Walking Away From Public Housing and Most Other Cities Are’

The Hammel Houses in Queens (Photo: Wikimedia)

New York City Housing Authority has been in the news lately after it released a report on its ongoing problems, which was followed with Mayor Michael Bloomberg replacing a couple board members. But Mr. Bloomberg strongly defended the agency during his weekly radio show and suggested his critics should manage NYCHA if they don’t like the job that’s being done.

“NYCHA is as dilapidated as the worst of its rat- and mold-infested projects,” one of those critics, the New York Daily News editorial board wrote today. “Summing up, its bureaucracy doesn’t know how to make routine repairs, perform major renovations, buy supplies, apply for federal funding or collect rents.”

“We are really trying, and there is no easy solution,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “And it’s going to get worse and they’ll be able to write another story about it.”

He, countered, however, that NYCHA is doing the best job it can with limited resources.

“It is run by the city but funded by the federal government. It’s an old plan, all those buildings are old and so maintenance costs keep going up, but at the same time, while at the same time the costs go up, the federal government keeps cutting back,” he said. “It’s an enormous problem and we’re struggling every day to find ways to do it. Given the number of people there, the number of problems you have is relatively small. Crime is higher in these buildings than it is in the streets but it has come down.”

“Could you do it better?” he asked himself. “Sure, yeah. … I’m hardly here to say that NYCHA has done everything perfectly, but if you take a look at the big numbers, yeah, they’ve done a pretty good job. We’re not walking away from public housing and most other cities are, and in fact, even the federal government’s policy is to try and find other ways to try and house people.”

Mr. Bloomberg then listed numbers to argue that, compared to the scale of the agency, the problems simply aren’t as dire as they’ve been made out to be in the press.

“We have 300 developments, and each development has 10 buildings or something like that, 8 buildings on average, 2,500 buildings, the number of apartments, 400,000 people let’s assume there’s 2 at an apartment,” he ticked off. “So when you say you have got 500 refrigerators sitting waiting to be installed, why aren’t they installed? 500 out of 200,000, you’re going to be having that much on the back of a truck all the time, I mean, come on.”

He concluded, “I like the people that write these, they’ve never run anything, good luck. Take the job if you don’t like it.” Bloomberg: ‘We’re Not Walking Away From Public Housing and Most Other Cities Are’