Mayor Bill de Blasio Wednesday touted the removal of shed-like scaffolding and other security improvements at public housing complexes citywide, speaking in East Harlem over the din of construction but also the heckling of bystanders who want more done.
More than a half-mile of scaffolding, which police say can also be used as hiding places for criminal activity, has been removed from the Lincoln Houses and about 8 miles will be gone across the city by next spring, he said.
"If work has to be done, get the work done," de Blasio said at a news conference in a courtyard of the Lincoln Houses, where he and other mayoral candidates spent the night in July 2013 to experience quality-of-life challenges firsthand. "Put it on a timeline that respects the people of the development."
The mayor spoke alongside City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Rev. Al Sharpton and NYPD Chief of Housing Carlos Gomez, who said public housing crime rates were up for five years straight until July 1. Since July 1, they have been down 13 percent, he said.
"That's a lie," one woman yelled as Gomez spoke.
"But the bricks ain't fixed," another woman had said as de Blasio described the scaffolding changes.
Lincoln Houses resident Ramon Madre, 78, shouted in Spanish during Mark-Viverito's remarks that more security was needed. He spoke until de Blasio addressed him with, "Thank you, brother." Madre and de Blasio later shared a polite handshake.
Asked why residents seemed frustrated, de Blasio said, "It takes time, first of all, for everyone to feel it, and I don't blame anyone for feeling there isn't enough yet. . . . We have a lot to do."
Lincoln Houses Tenant Association president Patricia Herman agreed progress is being made.
"We're seeing workers on the job," she said at the news conference. "They've done a miraculous job."
De Blasio said lives are being saved, pointing to the fact that the city has 29 fewer murders than it did at this point last year.