NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a state of emergency to end the bureaucratic gridlock that has stalled urgent health and safety repairs in public housing managed by the New York City Housing Authority. He pledged more than half a billion dollars set firm deadlines for results.
The community center gym at the James Weldon Johnson Houses was packed with NYCHA residents, and too many city, state and federal elected officials to name. After several tours of NYCHA developments and an inspection by the state health commissioner, Cuomo signed an executive order declaring the state of emergency.
Hundreds of thousands of NYCHA residents had to endure a tough winter without heat or hot water. That was on top of other serious lingering issues such as mold and lead paint. The residents have been actively organizing and speaking out.
The emergency declaration allows the state to cut through red tape. Cuomo Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and Danny Barber of the Citywide Council of Presidents will have 60 days to select an independent manager who will hire a contractor to use the unspent portion of the state's $550 million allocated to repairs and restoration and oversee the city's funds as well.
If there is no decision about an independent manager within 60 days, the selection then goes to Comptroller Scott Stringer, who has 14 days to make a choice.
The governor's office issued a statement that said, in part: "The construction projects will be expedited and cost less through design/build authorization. The projects will also not be subject to NYCHA procurement rules. The design/build authorization for projects required to repair and upgrade NYCHA units will comply with State Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises measures and will include employment opportunities for NYCHA tenants consistent with Federal Section 3 requirements."