Thousands protest 'deplorable' public housing

Thousands of public housing tenants joined unionized building workers Thursday to protest what they call deplorable conditions and devastating federal cuts.

Teamsters Local 237, which represents 8,000 New York City Housing Authority employees, and tenants armed themselves with signs and bullhorns on the steps of City Hall.

The rally came on the same day that Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented his 2009 fiscal year budget update.

According to the union, the Bush administration has slashed $611 million from New York City's public housing budget over the past six years. NYCHA currently faces an estimated budget shortfall of at least $200 million. Residents say they are already feeling the effects of the cuts.

They complain building security is dwindling, maintenance requests for elevators and apartments can take years to be addressed and living conditions are subhuman. They cite urine in hallways, trash in public areas and public drug use.

While NYCHA officials maintain they are not currently looking into making any specific job cuts, Local 237 believes it's only a matter of time. The union says NYCHA may lay off up to 190 workers to operate within its means.

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