Ben Carson has praise for a group that’s received mostly criticism from New York City residents.
According to New York Daily News, Carson commended the current leadership of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the country’s largest public housing provider. He also praised attempts to have private entities manage some of their developments.
“Substantial improvement in the management — I’m happy to see that,” he said. “I’m hearing a lot less about horrible things going on in the NYCHA apparatus right now and that’s very encouraging.”
Carson, who’s the Trump appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, made his comments on Wednesday at a ribbon-cutting event for a community center in East Harlem. However, that same day a coalition of tenants from two city public housing buildings rallied outside Civil Court in Lower Manhattan before bringing their lawsuit against NYCHA before a judge for terrible living conditions.
According to CBS New York, tenants of Isaacs Houses and Holmes Towers filed the lawsuit in December and it lists the consistent environment that make their buildings unlivable. Elevators are frequently out of service, leaky pipes lead to toxic mold growth, and NYCHA has failed to provide basic services, including hot water and heat. Residents even claim to have dangerous infestations of rats, mice and vermin that’s rarely remedied.
“I have children. I can’t live like that. I can’t live with roaches all over my house,” said plaintiff Lakeesha Taylor, a NYCHA resident who’s been complaining about roach infestations for years. Eventually, she had to take things into her own hands by sealing up any holes she could find.
Taylor’s next-door neighbor, Jose Cruceta, complained about the same thing.
“So many years, the same problems,” said Cruceta. He said NYCHA might come in to address the infestation but things would never be finished. “They say they’ll come back. They never come back. I make a new ticket for what I want, they never did it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Carson is not only pushing the narrative that NYCHA is getting better, but he’s also hoping that residents of New York, one of the most expensive cities in the country, can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and move out of public housing.
“For many years, success was how many people can we get into this project, into this development and into this program,” Carson said at Taino Towers during the community center ribbon cutting event. “We don’t think that that’s what success is anymore. We think success is how many people can we get out of that project and how many people can we get out of those programs.”
The bilingual EnVision community center was funded by HUD and the program emphasizes economic empowerment, wellness, leadership and is geared towards self-sufficiency.
“Those people who are work-able, we’re not doing them any service by putting them in a dependent position,” Carson said. “We do them a service when we give them the tools that are necessary to excel.”
It seems a sanitary and safe living environment isn’t high on the priority list for this excelling goal.