The Campos Plaza Housing development on the LES, where new security cameras were purchased but never installed. NYCHA has told residents there's no money to finish the much needed security enhancements.
For years, New York City's public housing residents have watched as community centers closed, repairs were neglected and staff was laid off. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) says it has had little choice, as it copes with drastic cuts in government funding. Last night, state lawmakers led the kickoff of a new campaign to restore city and state money to the city's public housing system, the largest in the nation.
Public housing residents met with the lawmakers, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh at the Grand Street Settlement on Pitt Street. Kavanagh and Squadron have helped assemble a large coalition, including more than 75 elected officials and organizations like Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES). They're calling the effort the SOUND Campaign- Save Our Underfunded NYCHA Developments. Several of the coalition partners were on hand last night, including representatives of Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Councilmember-elect Margaret Chin, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. The coalition is calling on the city and state to:
- Fully fund $64 million for State-built developments
- Fully fund $30 million for City-built developments;
- Stop requiring NYCHA to pay more than $70 million for police and sanitation services
- Invest $100 million from the Federal stimulus package in weatherization of NYCHA developments.
Days before returning to Albany to deal with the state's $3 billion budget crisis, the lawmakers conceded it's a tough time to be asking either the state or the city for money. But Kavanagh said, as budget negotiations proceed, funding for public housing "has to be part of the equation." Zach Bommer, representing Speaker Silver, said, at the very least, they're determined to keep additional NYCHA cuts off the table.
One of the main messages last night was that elected officials cannot fight the battle for funding alone. They're looking for many of the half-million NYC public housing residents to join the campaign. Squadron asked, "Will you stay with us (for as long as it takes)?" Squadron and Kavanagh said many of the problems at NYCHA are not about money, but they argued that restoring full funding is a necessary first step. If the city and state come forward with the funds, they suggested, it will be far easier to push NYCHA to make improvements to New York's 343 housing developments.
The coalition is planning a rally at City Hall next Thursday at 11am.