NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYCHA nightmare is at the center of a bitter fight between Mayor de Blasio and one of President Trump's top housing aides.
Lynne Patton, a federal housing official, moved into New York City public housing for a month. She wanted to see first-hand the chronic problems families say make their apartments unsafe.
Patton blames Mayor de Blasio for putting politics ahead of residents' safety. In an exclusive interview with CBS2's Marcia Kramer, Patton is now accusing the mayor and NYCHA officials of committing fraud and attempting to deceive federal inspectors.
"It was horrific Marcia," Patton said.
Web Extra: Lynne Patton Talks With Marcia Kramer, Extended Interview
"I saw rats, I saw roaches, I saw lead paint, I saw black mold, I saw raw sewage dripping down the walls. It is incredibly inhumane… nothing short of a humanitarian crisis.
"So you think money is being wasted?" Kramer asked.
"I know that money is being wasted, for example one of the units I stayed in in Brooklyn had a leaky basement, but NYCHA thought that was the perfect place to store about 40 brand new doors never used - those doors were destroyed," Patton detailed.
That waste of federal resources was just the tip of the ice berg according to the HUD official.
"Where is the $30 million a week that the federal government gives to NYCHA and the city for the residents repairs going? Because it's certainly not going to the residents for repairs."
"You want proof that it's going to repairs?" Kramer asked.
"I don't think that is too much to ask and quite frankly it shouldn't have anything to do with politics," Patton said.
Web Extra: Marcia Kramer Talks One-On-One Interview With Lynne Patton
Patton charges that politics - Mayor de Blasio's ambition to run for president including several trips around the country - have distracted him and has kept him from doing what he's responsible to do for New Yorkers. She has a laundry list of bones to pick with "On The Road Bill."
"When was he here?" Patton asked.
She is demanded to know why it's taking so long to find a permanent NYCHA chairman, a role she calls "the most critical position that's vacant right now in the city."
Patton also wants to know why are there so many management positions at NYCHA making six-figure salaries.
"There are far too many people at NYCHA wearing buttoned-up white shirts and not enough wearing overalls and this has to change and the mayor needs to get on board or get out," Patton declared.
Patton believes people should be punished for leaving NYCHA residents to live in such horrendous conditions.
"Should criminal charges be pursued?" Kramer asked.
"I personally think they should… deception and fraud… blatant deception and fraud," Patton alleged.
"They literally had a cheat sheet on how to pass a physical from HUD," Patton claims. "Paint cardboard so it looked like tile… these are crimes it's not something that's an innocent gesture… that's a cheat sheet on how to commit crimes."
Mayor de Blasio, who once welcomed HUD's involvement in trying to clean up NYCHA, now denied all the claims made by Patton during her documented journey.
"Everything she is saying is false, let's make it simple false, false, you can quote me… key word false," de Blasio said.
"Her president, she is a political appointee, just put forward a budget… So let's just deal with the hypocrisy here… Time to stop pretending that you're here to help people," the mayor added in a rambling defense that did not address where the millions in federal aid had been spent.
"NYCHA sat on about $486 million that was earmarked for capital repairs… did nothing with it. Why are you sitting on that? Are you trying to just live off the interest?" Patton asked.
Residents the HUD official lived with this winter say she's giving them hope change will come.
"They fixed up some of the things and they're in the process of continuing," NYCHA resident Joyce Green told CBS2.
Other residents claim NYCHA went right back to theiur old ways as soon as Patton left her public housing tour.
"When she left, now they've been here. I haven't seen them just yet this week," Leonard Jones said.
"They're telling the residents 'oh, we can't do this, we can't do that,' but that wasn't the issue when Ms. Patton was here."
Officials are racing a deadline to pick a new NYCHA chairman. The mayor claims he's been actively discussing candidates with federal officials, in between his recent trips to presidential battleground states.
Lynne Patton says she's worried all the mayor wants it a "patsy he can control."
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