A NYCHA tenant advocate from Harlem took her fight for improved public housing straight to the top Thursday, earning face time and a handshake from the President of the United States.
Frederick Douglass Houses Tenant Association President Carmen Quiñones had a brief Oval Office visit with President Trump, the climax of a whirlwind week during which she hosted Trump’s regional Housing and Urban Development administrator, Lynne Patton, in her uptown Manhattan apartment.
After days of a NYCHA tour that included peeling paint, leaky pipes, a stuck elevator and a rat the size of an obese cat, Quiñones joined Patton on a Washington, D.C., trip that featured a four-star hotel stay and a White House reception where she sipped champagne and calmed her nerves before meeting the President and First Lady Melania Trump.
Quiñones, ahead of the meeting, said she wanted to start a conversation with Trump about public housing, and the deplorable living conditions at NYCHA, the nation’s largest public housing authority, which Patton has repeatedly called “a humanitarian disaster.”
“I’ve been meeting very good people and getting my point across,” Quiñones said ahead of the meeting. “It’s awesome. They’re listening.”
Quiñones said she also got a chance to talk with Vice President Pence.
“I think he understands,” Quiñones said. “We had a very good conversation.”.
Quiñones took the train down to Washington, along with Patton. She met with Trump after a celebration of Black History Month.
Days earlier, Patton said Trump had personally called her to get a progress report on her visit.
The visit falls against the backdrop of a looming appointment of a federal monitor to overhaul the troubled housing authority, which multiple news reports said would be Bart Schwartz, a former U.S. attorney who headed the criminal division of the Southern District of New York under then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Patton moved into the Frederick Douglass Houses Tuesday, after a week spent at the Patterson Houses in the Bronx, where she stayed with the Sanchez family.
During her time there, Patton slept on an inflatable air mattress in the living room.