Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis is on a nine stop NYCHA tour today, visiting public housing in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. Billed as a “listening tour”, Malliotakis’ visits included meeting with tenant leaders as she was guided by activist Tony Herbert. I joined her visit to Stuyvesant Gardens II in Bed-Stuy.
Malliotakis appeared in front of Stuyvesant Gardens II with several tenants, including the secretary and treasurer of the board of the tenants association. They spoke of significant problems with the building, including a lack of security, unrepaired water damage and sewage backups that cause sickening odors from human waste. Malliotakis pledged to help as mayor, while also noting that she may be able to provoke a response from Mayor de Blasio just by appearing here.
Malliotakis does have some NYCHA buildings in her assembly district, so she has some involvement in NYCHA issues. She described those buildings as being in better condition than Stuyvesant Gardens, however. Here’s our exchange:
Malliotakis does not presently plan any major changes in NYCHA funding, saying that “there’s an issue of mismanagement” more than a lack of funding. The agency spends about $8 billion per year, split 60/40 between capital and operating costs, as the landlord to over 400,000 New Yorkers. It faces enormous operating and financial challenges as it works to address a large backlog of repairs and capital improvements while it operates over 300 separate housing developments. Here’s what Malliotakis had to say on funding:
The visits are good politics for Malliotakis. It’s good optics, showcasing the Republican in places and with New Yorkers who are not part of her base as she seeks to expand her exposure for the general election. It’s also good practice as even a modest level of exposure to N YCHA’s deep problems will be helpful should she become mayor. The tenants who appeared with her didn’t offer political endorsements, but they’re clearly open to help from anyone and any political party. Lost in the enormous enterprise of NYCHA they didn’t have a roadmap or plan for improvements, but would readily accept any politician who improved their home.
As the group disbursed one woman headed up Malcolm X Boulevard. An elderly woman she encountered asked who had appeared and drawn reporters and cameras. The woman replied “she’s running for mayor, she’s trying to help us.”