When Harrison Torres walks around the Patterson Houses at East 143rd Street in the Bronx, he likes what he sees.
“Almost all the buildings are waxed, the steps are done,” Torres said admiring one of his favorites, building 314. “It’s looking really good here.”
Torres, 43, has worked as the supervisor of caretakers at Patterson Houses since June 2014. A few weeks ago, he learned he was the first face of NYCHA's#IAmNextGen campaign, which is working to put a face to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who live in public housing.
Torres is both a NYCHA employee and resident. He has lived in the Johnson Houses in East Harlem since he was 5 years old. Torres said he had aspirations of joining the military growing up, but "got caught up in the fast life and that went out the window.”
“I saw opportunities, you could grow in housing, from the bottom, all the way to the top. So I said, let me try this out,” Torres said.
About five years ago, Torres joined the Section 3 resident hiring program working construction, then worked as a caretaker for about three and a half years, before being promoted last year.
He now oversees a staff of 22 people and the 25 buildings that make up Patterson Houses.
Torres now tried to inspire the younger kids hanging around the development, and encourages his co-workers.
“He’s enthusiastic about what he does, which makes me enthusiastic about what I do,” said coworker Lionel Lomax.
Torres, who has a daughter and a grandchild, said he’s not done yet. He wants to keep on moving up, to assistant superintendent, and after that, superintendent.
“I see the vision, and as long as the staff sees the vision, we can get there,” Torres said. “I’m five years in, I know some workers who are 25, 30 years in, and I say if I can pass the test, anyone can pass the test. Stay focused, do a good job and you’ll be allright.”
"The #IAmNextGen campaign puts a face to the over 600,000 public housing and Section 8 residents, and the over 11,000 employees of the housing authority,"NYCHA Deputy Press Secretary Aja Worthy-Davis told Metro. "NYCHA is not just buildings, but the individuals, families, and workers who invest in improving and leading their communities."