- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - The fate of $100 million in state funds for New York City public housing is the latest battleground in the frequently contentious relationship between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

When the state budget agreement was passed in April, Cuomo pledged the money for the decaying New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the first state investment into the aging system in nearly two decades.

He did not designate a use for the funds. However, NYCHA officials earmarked it to repair damaged roofs atop 123 aging buildings and pledged to match the state’s gift, committing $300 million for roof repairs over the next three years.

But earlier this month, the state changed plans and is now directing the funds to smaller, more quality-of-life repairs like playground equipment and landscaping. That move drew an angry reaction from the City Council, which held an oversight hearing on Thursday and demanded that the money be used for roof repair.

“Playing politics with the health and safety of public housing residents, who are living with mold growth and water leaks, is unacceptable,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, who accused the governor of choosing popular programs over critical infrastructure investments in the NYCHA system, which has more residents than the city of New Orleans.

De Blasio’s office - which will uphold its commitment to the roof funding - said that the government “can’t afford to abandon this plan.”

“After years of federal and state disinvestment, these residents deserve an aggressive vision to tackle one of the greatest problems affecting their homes,” said mayoral spokeswoman Ishanee Parikh.

A spokesman for the governor said the quality of life improvements were needed and that the change in plans will “free up resources for NYCHA to invest in its capital program.”

Cuomo and de Blasio, who miss few opportunities to extoll the virtues of their decades-long friendship, have clashed repeatedly over the mayor’s agenda, a conflict that has seemingly escalated in the final weeks of the state’s legislative session.

The men met behind closed doors Wednesday when de Blasio made a trip to Albany to lobby lawmakers, but Cuomo has coolly responded to a number of the mayor’s other proposals, including changes to a real estate development tax break and permanent control of the city’s public school system.


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