Why Governor Cuomo decided to allocate $100 million in funding in this year’s budget to the perennially underfunded agency, only to reroute the funds at the last minute towards Assembly member’s pet projects, whose insignificance even they have conceded, is anyone’s guess.
His decision is certainly not borne of lack of preparation or pressing need; the agency had conducted hundreds of hours of evaluation and produced a 50-page report detailing how the funding would be utilized to repair 123 roofs throughout its housing portfolio in dire need of repairs. In many cases, the agency said, the roofs had “reached and exceeded their useful lives.”
Dilapidated roofs are about much more than water damage. Leaky ceilings cause mold, a significant problem throughout NYCHA housing, which can cause severe health problems for children, the elderly and asthma sufferers, especially.
A strong roof can also slash maintenance costs down the road. A good roof enhances insulation during the winter, thereby cutting down on heating costs, and a survey found that roof replacement at three agency developments cut work orders by half.
In his swift reversal, Governor Cuomo has not only turned his back on the city’s residents most in need of aid, but has broken a promise. This funding was not a hazy possibility, but a pledge attached to a concrete dollar amount.
Pulling this money in favor of minute cosmetic fixes, which is what the funding, to be allocated in $2 million increments will now be used for, is not only shady politics, but is wrong, plain and simple. This decision will put people’s health at risk.