Mayor Bill de Blasio, locked in a feud with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said Wednesday he will go to Albany next week to hear the governor’s State of the State speech and had not yet been briefed on its contents.
“You’ll have to ask them,” de Blasio said in response to a question about when he expected to hear from the governor’s office.
Cuomo, meanwhile, took another shot at the city shelter system that he has characterized as dirty and dangerous, saying that opting to sleep on cold city streets rather than checking into the shelters is a “sign of sanity.”
The governor’s annual address Jan. 13 in Albany will contain policy pitches impacting the city and its relationship with state government. Cuomo has signalled he will unveil a sweeping proposal to overhaul the homeless shelter system.
Cuomo reinforced the need for shelter reforms to reporters after a Wednesday announcement about a revitalization of Penn Station, which was held at the same time de Blasio was hosting a news conference downtown on his plan to pay 50,000 more workers in the city at least $15 per hour by 2018.
“A homeless person not willing to go into a shelter is a sign of sanity because they are so dirty and dangerous,” the governor said. “It is unacceptable. It has to change. If those shelters are as dirty and dangerous as they are, you will never get people off the streets.”
Told of Cuomo’s most recent criticism, de Blasio said the shelters can’t “be painted with a broad brush.”
“It’s fair to say, some meet a standard that we hold to be the appropriate standard of cleanliness and security, others have more work to do,” he said.
De Blasio announced that the city will make efforts to expedite shelter repairs, vowing a response within 24 hours of a filed complaint. He said also that the city’s Safe Haven program, with hundreds of beds in faith-based organizations, is an alternative to traditional shelters.
Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever declined to say when the city would get a heads-up about the governor’s speech. She noted that the address is still a week away.
Cuomo and de Blasio have clashed over funding for the city’s universal pre-K rollout, reforms to a real estate tax abatement program, the response to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and more. The former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development colleagues dined in private Dec. 1 to an effort to mend their relationship, but they have not made a joint public announcement in months.
De Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton said the mayor was invited Tuesday evening to Cuomo’s Penn Station event but already had scheduled his minimum wage announcement. She said Cuomo, a vocal advocate from the state level for a $15 minimum wage, was not invited to de Blasio’s announcement at the District Council Local 37’s lower Manhattan offices because the event did not affect state policy.
“We don’t compare notes on our schedules,” de Blasio said, asked about the dueling news conferences.
Cuomo on Tuesday contradicted de Blasio’s linkage of the homelessness problem to economic conditions, saying “it’s not a complicated problem, it’s a human problem.”
The mayor said Wednesday he still believes homelessness is linked to the state of the economy and is a “multi-faceted” issue. He would not say whether he thinks Cuomo misunderstands the crisis.
“I’m not here to characterize his thinking; I’m here to tell you the truth,” de Blasio said.