ACCOUNTABILITY OR PUBLICITY?

December 05, 2018 at 4:45 am

Is a Housing and Urban Development official’s move from Trump Tower to NYC Housing Authority housing an attempt to fix problems or grab headlines?

Aired on December 4, 2018.

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>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
METROFOCUS.
I'M JENNA FLANNAGAN.
FROM TRUMP PLAZA TO PUBLIC
HOUSING AMID REPORTS OF RATS
RUNNING RAMPANT AND TENANTS
LIVING IN A DEEP FREEZE LYNN
PATTON THE LONG TIME TRUMP
FAMILY AIDE TURNED HEAD OF NEW
YORK'S DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND
URBAN DEVELOPMENT IS MOVING INTO
NYCHA HOUSING FOR ONE MONTH
UNTIL THE HEAT AND HOT WATER IS
FIXED ACROSS THE CITY.
BUT WILL HER NEW HOME AWAY FROM
HOME HELP HER GAIN ENOUGH
PERSPECTIVE TO STEM WHAT HAS
BECOME THE LARGEST HOUSING
CRISIS IN THE NATION?
AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST OF TRUMP'S
AMERICA AT METRO PAPERS ELLIS
HENNIGAN IS HERE TO PONDER THAT
QUESTION AND HE JOINS ME NOW.
WELCOME BACK.
>> HOW ARE YOU, JENNA?
>> SO WHAT WAS YOUR TAKE ON THIS
ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WE'RE GOING TO
HAVE THE HUD OFFICIAL FOR THIS
REGION MOVING INTO PUBLIC
HOUSING?
>> ARE YOU SUGGESTING THIS IS A
CHEESY PUBLICITY STUNT?
>> I'M NOT SUGGESTING IT, BUT A
LOT OF OTHER JOURNALISTS HAVE.
>> YOU KNOW, IT IS.
IT IS.
HOWEVER, I'M GOING TO DEFEND IT
FOR A SECOND.
>> OKAY.
>> I MEAN, YES, IT'S OBVIOUSLY
DESIGNED TO GENERATE A BUNCH OF
PUBLICITY, OH, WOW, THE BOSS IS
GOING TO MOVE INTO THE HOUSING.
THAT SAID, YOU KNOW, IT MAY NOT
BE ALL BAD.
I MEAN, ONE THING ABOUT CHEESY
PUBLICITY STUNTS IS THAT THEY
GENERATE PUBLICITY AND ONE OF
THE PROBLEMS WITH PUBLIC
HOUSING, NOT JUST IN THE NEW
YORK AREA BUT AROUND THE COUNTRY
IS THAT PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO PAY
ATTENTION TO IT.
RIGHT?
YOU PUSH THOSE PEOPLE OVER
THERE, YOU WANT TO FORGET ABOUT
THEM, YOU DON'T WANT TO FUND T
YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT,
YOU DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH THE
PROBLEMS SO, DO YOU KNOW WHAT,
MAYBE THIS WILL GENERATE A
LITTLE ATTENTION.
>> AS I WAS READING ABOUT THIS I
WAS ALSO THINKING BACK TO WHEN A
YOUNG CITY COUNCILMAN IN NEWARK
DID THE SAME THING AND OF COURSE
THAT WAS CORY BOOKER.
WE WILL SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.
>> SHE DID NOT INVENT THE IDEA.
>> SHE DID NOT.
>> LET'S CONCEDE THAT.
>> IT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE.
BUT TO GET DEEPER INTO SOME OF
THE ISSUES THAT WE ARE TALKING
ABOUT HERE, SO NYCHA HAS HAD
BILLIONS OF DOLLARS CUT FROM ITS
BUDGET AND THAT WAS ON THE PART
OF HUD, CORRECT?
>> UH-HUH.
>> OKAY.
>> YEAH, THE FUNDING ALL COMES
FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
ESSENTIALLY.
>> OF COURSE.
BASICALLY IT SEEMS TO ME THAT
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS RESTATING
OR REDEDICATING THIS FUNDING
THAT'S BEEN LOST.
>> OKAY.
THERE ARE TWO ISSUES HERE.
>> OKAY.
>> ONE OF THEM IS FEDERAL
FUNDING AND THE TRUMP
ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN MAKING
TREMENDOUS EFFORTS TO SLASH
ESPECIALLY THE CAPITAL FUNDING,
THE STUFF THAT GOES TO FIXING
THINGS.
>> YEAH.
>> SO FAR CONGRESS HAS MOSTLY
RESISTED THAT, BUT CLEARLY THE
ADMINISTRATION IS TRYING TO
SLASH THIS STUFF.
BUT THERE ARE ALSO PROBLEMS
LOCALLY AT HEADQUARTERS.
THERE ARE A LOT OF REASONS TO
FEEL LIKE THIS AGENCY IS NOT
BEING MANAGED VERY WELL RIGHT
NOW.
A BUNCH OF STORIES IN THE LOCAL
PAPERS, GREG SMITH ESPECIALLY AT
THE DAILY NEWS HAS PROBABLY LED
MOST OF THAT COVERAGE, AND THERE
WERE REASONS TO THINK THAT ALL
IS NOT WELL AT LOCAL
HEADQUARTERS.
SO HOW MUCH OF THE ISSUE IS WON
AND HOW MUCH IS THE OTHER, YOU
KNOW, IT'S ANYBODY'S GUESS, BUT
BOTH OF THOSE THINGS HAVE
PROBLEMS.
>> SPEAKING OF THE LOCAL LEVEL,
WE HAVE OF COURSE SEEN MAYOR de
BLASIO DEDICATE I BELIEVE IT WAS
$3.7 BILLION OVER THE NEXT FEW
YEARS.
>> HE HAS MADE COMMITMENTS.
>> GOVERNOR CUOMO DEDICATE
SEVERAL HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS
TO FIXING THE BOILERS WHICH WAS
A PROBLEM FROM LAST WINTER WE
REMEMBER.
STILL AT THE SAME TIME IT STILL
LANDS ON THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT'S LAP.
SO HOW MUCH OF THIS THIS IS
GOING TO BE ABOUT GETTING
ATTENTION AND THEN GETTING MORE
ACTION FROM WHO?
>> WELL, LET ME LAY OUT A PLAN.
LET'S HAVE SOME HOPE A MOMENT.
>> OKAY.
>> MAYBE BY SPENDING JANUARY
LIVING IN GENES BRIDGE HOUSES OR
WHEREVER SHE ENDS UP SHE WILL
LEARN SOMETHING, AND ONE OF THE
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS IS THAT
WHEN YOU HAVE A BIG PUBLIC
INFRASTRUCTURE LIKE PUBLIC
HOUSING YOU HAVE TO SPEND MONEY
TO MAINTAIN IT AND YOU HAVE TO
RUN IT EFFICIENTLY AND MAKE SURE
YOU DON'T HAVE CORRUPTION IN
THERE, BUT YOU REALLY DO NEED TO
GENERATE LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY
AND IN THIS CASE FROM THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO MAKE SURE
THAT THE HEATING SYSTEM WORKS
AND THAT THERE'S HOT WATER IN
THE WINTER AND THAT THE BUILDING
RPT FALLING DOWN.
YOU KNOW, MAYBE BY BEING THERE
AND SEEING THAT IN PERSON, MAYBE
WE WILL LEARN SOMETHING.
>> NOW, HUD HAS BEEN CUTTING ITS
FUNDING FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND
YEARS NOW, BILLIONS OF DOLLARS
HAVE COME OUT OF HUD, BUT THE
PRESIDENT HIMSELF WANTED TO UT
CUT, I BELIEVE, $1.92 BILLION
FROM THE HOUSING CAPITAL FUND SO
IF THAT'S WHAT THE PRESIDENT IS
LOOKING FOR, COULD THERE
POSSIBLY BE ANOTHER OPTION TO
DEAL WITH PUBLIC HOUSING, LIKE
PRIVATIZING IT?
>> WELL, YES, AND LIKE CHARTER
SCHOOLS THERE ARE LOTS OF FOLKS,
PARTICULARLY REPUBLICANS, WHO
WOULD LIKE TO PRIVATIZE MORE OF
THIS, BUT, YOU KNOW, THE EFFORTS
SO FAR HAVE NOT PROVEN TO BE ANY
NIRVANA ANY MORE THAN PRIVATE
PRISONS HAVE PROVED TO BE A HUGE
SOLUTION.
YOU KNOW, THESE ARE JUST BIG
PUBLIC THINGS THAT NEED TO GET
DONE, THEY ARE HARD, RIGHT?
THE CLIENTS COME WITH A WHOLE
ARRAY OF ISSUES IN THEIR OWN
LIVES AND IT'S EXPENSIVE AND
THERE'S NOT A LOT OF POLITICAL
PAY BACK.
THEY DON'T HAVE THE RESIDENTS IN
PUBLIC HOUSING ARE NOT
POLITICALLY POWERFUL PEOPLE, BY
AND LARGE.
SO THERE ISN'T ANYBODY SPEAKING
UP FOR THEM AND, YOU KNOW, WHEN
THE CUTTING BEGINS THEY ARE THE
FIRST PEOPLE WHO TEND TO GET
CUT.
>> THAT IS TRUE, HOWEVER, WE
HAVE SEEN THE MAYOR AT LEAST
SUPPORT PRIVATE MANAGEMENT OF
SOME CERTAIN NYCHA APARTMENTS.
>> THEY'RE TRYING THAT IN SOME
LIMITED WAYS SHOO IS THAT
SOMETHING THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY
SEE GETTING ROLLED OUT?
MAYBE THE WHOLE THING DOESN'T GO
PRIVATE BUT MAYBE THE MANAGEMENT
AND WE TAKE THAT OUT OF NYCHA'S
HANDS.
>> HERE IS MY ATTITUDE ABOUT IT,
WE NEED TO DO WHAT WORKS AND
CLEARLY GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS
AREN'T ALWAYS THE BEST SOLUTIONS
AND SHOULDN'T BE THE MONOPOLY
SOLUTIONS.
SO, YEAH, LET'S TRY SOME
DIFFERENT STUFF.
LET'S TAKE SOME BUILDINGS, MAYBE
THE TENANTS SHOULD BE RUNNING
SOME OF THOSE BUILDINGS OR MAYBE
PRIVATE COMPANIES CAN BRING SOME
KIND OF WISDOM TO IT OR MAYBE WE
CAN FIND WAYS TO CHOP UP THESE
MAMMOTH BUREAUCRACIES SO WE GET
BETTER EFFICIENCIES AND CREATIVE
IDEAS.
BUT YOU'RE RIGHT, YOU CAN'T SAY
THIS IS HOW WE'VE ALWAYS DONE
IT, THIS IS HOW WE ALWAYS NEED
TO DO IT.
>> IT SEEMS LIKE THE MOST
IMPORTANT ISSUE HERE IS THAT
TENANTS HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH
NO HEAT AND HOT WATER, THIS HE
DEALT WITH IT LAST WINTER --
>> THEY CAN'T STAND -- THEY NEED
HEAT AND HOT WATER.
>> WE HAVE THAT COMING UP AGAIN.
AT LEAST FOR THE IMMEDIATE
FUTURE CAN WE EXPECT BOILERS TO
BE REPLACED?
>> YOU THINK I'M PROMISE YOU
THAT?
>> THERE'S SOME MONEY THAT'S IN
THE PIPELINE.
I MEAN, I UNDERSTAND THAT THE
STATE FUNDING THAT WAS ALLOCATED
FOR THIS, BUT IS BEING HELD UP
FOR A PARTICULAR REASON.
>> HERE IS WHAT I CAN PROMISE
YOU, ALL RIGHT, IS THAT THE
WORST THING IS NOT TO PAY
ATTENTION, IS JUST TO TURN OUR
EYES AWAY AND SAY THAT'S A BUNCH
OF POOR PEOPLE, WHAT DO THEY
REALLY WANT ANY WAY.
THE BETTER ANSWER IS GIVE IT
PUBLICITY, KEEP THE MEDIA
ENGAGED, YOU KEEP DOING MORE
SEGMENTS ABOUT THIS.
>> WE WILL DEFINITELY.
>> AND, DO YOU KNOW WHAT, MAYBE
SOME CREATIVE IDEAS WILL PRESS
FORWARD, MAYBE THE FUNDING WILL
IMPROVE AND MAYBE SOME OF THESE
FOLKS WHO DESERVE DECENT HOUSING
WILL GET THEIR DECENT HOUSING.
>> ALL RIGHT.
>> FAIR ENOUGH?
>> REBUILDING SOME NEW BUILDINGS
EVEN.
LISTEN, ELLIS, I WANT TO THANK
YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US AND
GIVING US SOME CONTEXT TO WHAT
WE CAN ALL EXPECT TO BE A VERY
INTERESTING STORY LINE FOR 2018.
>> LET'S KEEP ON IT.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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