Leaders Unveil NYCHA Safety Concerns, Recommendations

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By Naomi Cohen In light of a new report revealing safety concerns of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants in the Lower East Side, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh released recommendations for changes on Friday. "This is a cry for help," said Stringer at the Seward Park Extension housing complex, site of the shooting of Officer Brian Groves this summer. "It's time to fix the damn doors." According to the report, which surveyed 520 residents at ten developments, about half of respondents have broken locks and unsecured lobby doors, and 65 percent marked inadequate protections against trespassers. Tenant leaders joined the politicians at the press conference and echoed concerns. In some cases, a lack or shortage of security precautions causes residents to fear leaving the house, according Dereese Huff, president of the Campos Plaza tenants association. NYCHA is still sitting on $42 million budgeted for security cameras, and tenants are growing impatient. Though NYCHA recently announced camera installations by the end of 2013, Stringer insisted that changes be made now and that such standards of living would be unacceptable anywhere else. He proposed restructuring NYCHA, adding that, "We don't need a whole beurocracy to tell us what the tenants have told us in the survey. Besides equiping developments, the recommendations focus on re-evaluating the relationship with the New York Police Department. In a 1994 Memorandum of Understanding with the NYPD, NYCHA agreed to pay for "above baseline services," now costing $72 million from subsidies a year. Housing developments account for 20 percent of New York City crime but receive 9 percent of NYPD services. A renegotiated MOU would eliminate the surcharge without sacrificing current levels of police presence. "We have a problem with crime and we have a problem in terms of giving people the comfort they deserve," said Senator Squadron. To maximize public safety, the recommendations also include enhanced Section 3 employment opportunities and programs, activities and counseling for at-risk young adults and expanded Neighborhood Watch Programs-available now to 21 percent of survey respondents. "We'll do everything we can to make sure that this is a voice that isn't forgotten," said Senator Squadron.

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