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City Council members push Cuomo to declare a NYCHA state of emergency

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Declaring a state of emergency would allow the NYCHA to expedite repairs to busted boilers

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A handful of City Council members are calling upon Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency at the New York City Housing Authority in order to expedite repairs, reports the NY Post.

At a press conference held on the City Hall steps, Councilman Robert Cornegy, joined by Carlos Menchaca, Mark Gjonaj and Bill Perkins, requested that the state provide limited oversight of the NYCHA and that Governor Cuomo have a meeting with local elected officials to discuss the possibility of more state funding for the agency in order to get boilers and heating systems repaired faster. Declaring a state of emergency would allow NYCHA to expedite bidding and contracting with outside companies.

However, it seems that Cornegy is a bit out of the loop. Per the Post, Councilman Ritchie Torres and Councilwoman Alicka Samuel said that Council members have already initiated a conversation with Governor Cuomo on these issues and are working to see that the expedition of repairs happens.

Things got even uglier with Torres telling the Post that Cornegy’s “attempt to pre-empt the speaker and his colleagues who have done real work on NYCHA is a cheap PR stunt.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s counsel issued a response stating:

The State Department of Health has agreed to a request by Senator James Sanders to inspect the housing authority in his district but we agree with the Councilman that the problem is system-wide. The question we pose to the Councilman Cornegy and City Council is how can the State best help to address the issue. This State does have the power to declare an emergency. A Declaration of Emergency can take various forms from expediting contracting mechanisms to intervening with actual task completion. That is the discussion we must now have.

Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to invest $200 million to replace and repair boilers and heating systems at 20 New York City Housing Authority developments but the project would take until the end of 2022 to complete, which critics say is way too long.

NYCHA has come under fire lately for its handling of the outages (along with other serious issues) that plagued tenants this winter and the Legal Aid Society is urging the agency to either agree to issue rent refunds for those affected or face litigation.