Governor Hopeful Cynthia Nixon Tackles NYCHA

By Andrea Nieves

Housing apartments on Rosedale Ave. in Bronx, New York. Photo by Andrea Nieves.

Along with calling for functional healthcare, justice and transit systems, New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon is taking on the city’s housing authority. For Lehman students who have endured harsh conditions in public housing, change couldn’t come fast enough. 

“This winter we didn’t have heat in our apartments,” said Lehman sophomore Danielle Serrano. “It took them forever to acknowledge our complaints and take action but even then, the heat didn’t last long. It would be on during the day but off in the night.”.

Nixon, 52, visited the Albany Houses in Crown Heights with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to see the harsh living conditions that NYCHA tenants have been complaining about. Nixon and Adams met a few of the tenants and after seeing the conditions in which they live, Nixon said to PIX11 News, “It is definitely in a state of emergency.”

Among the many repair issues addressed, lead-based paint was found in many if not all NYCHA buildings across the five boroughs. 

Nixon said lead paint was the main concern, and that its dangerous to NYCHA tenants. This has led to a large-scale lawsuit brought against NYCHA. Nixon told PIX11, “I am very troubled that the chair knew about the lead paint and did not inform families. I can’t understand why she did that; That’s going to be a very hard thing to overcome.”  

Lehman students find it hard to trust the housing authority after their recent controversy. Lehman senior Mitali Sarkar said, “They can get away with not telling tenants because most people aren’t aware of lead in the paint. Most people are distracted by school or work so they don’t look for these things. I live in an apartment as well so to hear about people getting lead poisoning from this is very alarming.”

According to The Daily News, NYCHA tenants filed a lawsuit against the city demanding retesting of apartments because they claim Housing Authority managers are lying to tenants about the status or lack of presence of lead in their units.

Since then, there has been “a political crisis” regarding NYCHA and their need for more money in the budget. Among the controversy, NYCHA chairwoman Shola Olatoye has resigned but denies her resignation was forced by recent scandals. 

On March 12, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. held a press conference in the Jackson Houses, along with Governor Cuomo to speak on the issues. Diaz said, “We know that the NYCHA residents day in and day out are living in unacceptable conditions.” Problems stem from molding, walls that are crumbling, roaches, lack of heat and hot water, and lead paint in the apartments. Governor Cuomo questioned what was being done by the Housing department to address these issues. “It’s not about blaming or shifting responsibility. Let’s just improve the lives of the people. That’s what government is about and that’s what we’re going to do” Cuomo says.

Nixon, who faces opposition to her run from the Democratic party, has also challenged Governor Cuomo over his sudden interest in reversing the longstanding deterioration of public housing. During a press conference reported by Charlotte Brehaut, Nixon rips into Governor Cuomo by saying, “We’ve all seen it. Andrew the bully. But worst of all his budgets bully our children and our families by shortchanging them, by boxing them in, by denying them the opportunities they are owed…And I am here to tell you that I am one woman who has the experience to say that the people of New York are sick of being bullied.”  

The 2018 New York gubernatorial election will take place on November 6, 2018. Nixon is running against Randy Credico as well as incumbent Governor Cuomo. If successful, Nixon will be the first female governor of New York.