NEW YORK—Five candidates running for mayor of New York City joined Rev. Al Sharpton for an overnight stay in public housing on July 20. The stunt was organized to draw attention to the shabby conditions of many homes in the public housing system and to inform the policy-making decisions of the potential next mayor.
Democrats Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner all spent Saturday night with different host families at the Lincoln Houses complex in East Harlem.
“We are all up at the Lincoln Houses after this overnight to dramatize conditions in public housing,” said a comment on Sharpton’s Twitter feed at about 6 a.m. Sunday morning. “What a night to remember.”
About 3,100 residents live in the 65-year-old complex run by New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Another of Sharpton’s tweets included a photograph of him pointing to what looks like a decaying lower wall inside of an apartment. He said of the photograph that the tenant has been asking NYCHA to fix the wall for 5 years.
Such a lengthy wait time for a repair is not considered to be unusual by NYCHA tenants, who have been raising the issue at mayoral forums around the city in recent months.
By NYCHA’s own reckoning, there are about 220,000 backlogged repairs that it hopes to fix by the end of 2013. Some of the needed repairs include remediation of mold, a condition known to be dangerous to human health.
Some of the candidates used the opportunity to take to Twitter to speak about what they were experiencing.
Quinn promised that if elected mayor she would restore NYCHA’S $100 million budget shortfall, which has been partially brought on by the federal government’s waning support for the system. She also noted the urgency of some of the repairs.
“We must make sure all emergency NYCHA repairs get done within 24 hours,” stated Quinn’s Twitter feed.
While Weiner and de Blasio made no social media mention of their stay in the Lincoln Houses, Liu did post a photo of a woman’s badly damaged front door, and mentioned a late night run for fried wings and “talking politics over a game of Spades.”
Thompson also posted several messages to Twitter.
“Tonight isn’t about those running for office, it’s about the 600K NYCHA residents who have been silenced by the current administration,” stated Thompson’s Twitter feed.
The Housing Authority declined to comment on the event.
Additional reporting by Associated Press.