Among other things, Sanders was told of frequently out-of-service elevators that force residents to climb the stairs in the aging high-rises.
“This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world,” Sanders told reporters afterward. “People should not be forced to live in dilapidated housing, where elevators break down and elderly people have to walk eight flights up or down to go and get some groceries.”
“What this campaign is about is transforming our national priorities,” Sanders continued, “not spending trillions of dollars on wars we should not get into, not spending billions of dollars on tax breaks for the 1 percent.”
Sanders was told by a reporter that one resident thought he was witnessing a publicity stunt on the final weekend before the crucial New York Democratic primary between Sanders and front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Sanders said he understood people’s cynicism, but he still bristled at the charge.
“No matter what you do — if I wasn’t here, people would say, ‘Why didn’t you show up?’” Sanders said. “Believe me, I can understand the cynicism. But my understanding is not too many presidential candidates have come to Brownsville to visit housing projects.”
“Exactly never,” chimed in Ritchie Torres, a New York City Council member who was among Sanders’s tour guides.
“Exactly never," Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, repeated. “So that’s a start.”
“Are we a poor country that can’t afford to maintain public housing?” he said. “I don’t think so. And that means transforming our tax system and saying to corporate America and the wealthiest people in America — yeah, you’re going to have to start paying your fair share so these children can have a future in which they can thrive in.”
Sanders was also joined on his tour by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and New York City Council member Jumaane Williams.
The visit to the housing complex came on a day when Sanders also spoke at a church in Harlem, shook hands on a gorgeous spring day with voters in a Brooklyn neighborhood and was scheduled to hold a large-scale rally in Brooklyn.