NEW YORK — Since she took over as President Donald Trump’s top housing official in the New York City area, Lynne Patton has been criticized for bringing a reality TV approach to what’s traditionally been a bureaucratic job.
She’s feuded with journalists, calling one White House reporter “Miss Piggy .” On Twitter, she tosses barbs at liberal politicians and lavishes praise on the Trump family, which she worked for as an aide before being installed in 2017 at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Patton, 46, even sought guidance from HUD last fall as to whether she could take time off to appear in a TV “docuseries” about black Republicans.
So when Patton announced she’d be living in New York City’s decaying public housing system for four weeks to get a sense of what it was like for tenants, there was skepticism. Was she there to learn and come up with policy solutions? Or was it a stunt?
As the experiment winds down this week, several tenants who met her said they were impressed by her passionate advocacy.
“Listen, she’s the messenger. I think she deserves a chance,” said Leilani Smith-Simon, a longtime tenant who attended a town hall with Patton at the Queensbridge Houses in Queens. “I have to hope things can change and things can get better. She seems trustworthy and she wants us to hold her accountable. There’s something to be said for that.”
Some were more skeptical.
“This is all a show,” Queensbridge tenant Tracy Harris said. “I don’t believe one word that’s coming out of her mouth. She’s saying all the right things, but they’re empty promises. Just like the last person who came up in here, and the person before that. She’s all for show.”
Patton spent her last week of overnights at Brooklyn’s Fenimore-Lefferts Houses, where she held a media event Tuesday.
Wearing high-heeled boots, a chic black cape and sunglasses perched atop her head, she led reporters through apartments with mouldy ceilings and down to a fetid basement where she covered her nose and mouth with her scarf.
“I’m happy that she’s here,” Patton’s host in Brooklyn, Gwendolyn Jones, said. “She can share some insight with whoever, let them know that enough is enough. She’s wonderful. She’s concerned.”
After delays caused in part by the 35-day government shutdown, Patton launched her tour on Feb. 11, toting an air mattress into the Patterson Houses in the Bronx. She went on to stay with other host families in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.
Patton has said her goal is to shine a spotlight on public housing ills such as chronic heat and hot water outages.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks that this is no longer OK,” she said in November when she first floated the sleepover idea.
Along the way she joined a Zumba class, watched “The Wendy Williams Show” with her Queensbridge host, April Simpson, and got stuck in an overcrowded elevator .
She also took a break to make a surprise cameo appearance at the congressional testimony of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
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Source:: Nationalpost – News