After a highly publicized stay at NYCHA’s Patterson Houses in the Bronx, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administrator Lynne Patton lambasted the state agency for misusing the budget it does have.
“We went to a ton of shithole apartments, as my boss would say,” Patton said to assembled Patterson Houses tenants, adding later on Twitter, “What else would you call it? It was horrific. I don’t mince words and I’m not going to sugarcoat NYCHA’s failures.”
According to Patton and Natalie Rosado, the Patterson tenant she has been staying with, the NYCHA only repaired long-standing problems with her communal bathroom, which included peeling paint and black mold, once Patton drew attention to it with her visit.
State officials have priced a full repair of NYCHA public housing at $32 billion, something that Patton has scoffed at, choosing instead to blame the agencies in charge.
“There are a lot of people in the city who haven’t done anything for years. People can blame federal divestment all they want to–it was divested by both sides of aisle for the last 17 years,” Patton said. “You can throw money at an issue all you want, but until you fix gross mismanagement, until you fix a culture of fraud and deception, nothing is going to change.”
The divestment Patton spoke of was a reference to Andrew Cuomo’s time as Secretary of HUD under President Clinton’s administration, where he oversaw a program called HOPE VI, which involved widespread demolition of public housing in cities throughout the US. Rather than lack of funding, Patton said, residents are dealing with institutional indifference.
“NYCHA is very much a community,” she said. “The residents here are protecting me more than a police department ever could.”
Even so, Patton has rejected requests for additional funding for the embattled city agency, claiming that appointing a federal monitor to oversee the program will lead to better outcomes.