Actress and gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon took aim at her ally Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo due to their feuding over New York City’s public housing system (NYCHA), vowing not to engage in such a “pissing contest” if she were to become governor.
When asked to weigh in on the political fighting between the mayor and the governor over NYCHA following a visit to the NYCHA’s Albany Houses in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn on Wednesday morning with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, she said that she would not be fighting as much as governor.
“I think that New Yorkers are tired of—when I am the governor, I am sure that the mayor and I will disagree on a whole host of issues, but I can promise you we won’t get into this kind of a pissing contest,” Nixon declared.
But the bottom line for her is that every branch of government has to step up “and the state more than anybody.” She also said it was not just a housing crisis but a “health crisis.”
“That’s where the money is, that’s where the fundraising ability is possible,” Nixon continued. “I don’t know how Governor Cuomo can have toured NYCHA housing three times in the last week and a half and have seen what we’ve seen and not be putting a billion dollars into the budget.”
Every branch of government, she argued, has neglected public housing in New York City for “far too long.” When asked whether she holds de Blasio responsible given a lead paint scandal under NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye and 323,000 public housing residents being deprived of heat and hot water during the winter, she said everyone is responsible.
But like Cuomo, she thinks the timeline the mayor has proposed for replacing boilers and upgrading heating systems at 20 NYCHA developments is not good enough.
“I include everybody in this but it is—I know that the mayor has made replacing the boilers a priority, put 82 million in,” Nixon continued. “He says 2022. That’s not an acceptable figure… these people can’t go through another winter without any heat, without any hot water.”
She called on the governor to add $1 billion and said that “we have to give lump sums of money.”
“The fact of the matter is that we’ve got a state of emergency in our public housing, and we need a massive investment,” she added.
In 2015, the state pledged $300 million to NYCHA. The governor’s office said that in addition to that figure, there is $250 million proposed in the state budget, bringing the total investment to $550 million. Last week, the governor pledged not to sign any budget that does not include sufficient and immediate remedies for public housing residents.
Alicia Glen, the city’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, for her part, claimed that the city has not received more than $200 million out of that $300 million.
The governor’s office says the $200 million has been approved, but that the state is awaiting a plan from the city as to how it will spend the money on a project-specific basis. The state also said that of the $100 million allocated in state fiscal year 2016, $89,928,694 worth of projects have been completed or are still in progress.
Still, Nixon had no qualms about critiquing NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye.
“I am very troubled that the chair knew about the lead paint and did not inform families,” Nixon said. “I can’t understand why she did that. That’s gonna be a very hard thing to overcome but even if you replace her, without substantial funding, the next person in the position is gonna have the same problem.”