HARLEM (PIX11) – Rev. Al Sharpton originally suggested the sleepover several months ago. And while he admits it’s a gimmick, he says this will bring attention to the deplorable conditions in New York City Housing Authority buildings.
“One night is not going to solve the problem, but one night is going to dramatize that there’s an issue,” said Sharpton.
Democratic candidates Christine Quinn, John Lui, Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio and Anthony Weiner all accepted the invitation.
They participated in a town hall meeting and addressed residents’ concerns. All pledged that as mayor, problems in NYCHA buildings will be addressed in a timely manner.
Major problems in public housing include mold, rats, roaches and broken elevators. Some tenants complained they have waited years for repairs.
After the town hall meeting the candidates toured the Lincoln Houses before going to their host apartments.
“They are giving them sleeping bags. So I am going to move this table and let them sleep here or they can sleep on the couch,” said resident Katherine Wilson. She was assigned to Bill de Blasio.
Wilson has a leaky ceiling and black mold in her kitchen. She has waited two years for the ceiling to be fixed.
“They have to listen to the constituents and meet with them and talk to them and understand exactly what they need,” said the Urban Justice Center’s Afua Atta-Mensah.
The Urban Justice Center, Community Voices Heard and the National Action Network organized this sleepover.
Several candidates for mayor declined the invitation. Organizers said that is a shame because hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers live in NYCHA buildings.