The city is committing $210 million to make neighborhoods safer for 400,000 New Yorkers who live in public housing.
“We are making investments in our public housing – investments that should’ve been made long ago,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the Wagner Houses in East Harlem on Tuesday.
The funds will pay for increased NYPD patrols, security lighting, community programs and removal of sidewalk sheds where criminals can hide out, de Blasio said.
Though crime has decreased citywide, shootings in public housing developments are up 31 percent this year, officials said. The NYPD’s Housing Bureau, which patrols New York City Housing Authority complexes, have historically made up 20 percent of all city shootings and officials said gunfire tends to erupt near developments.
The city’s plan will target 15 developments that have accounted for 20 percent of NYCHA’s violent crime. Among them are the Boulevard Houses, where two children were stabbed, one fatally, last month in an elevator.
Officials have already promised to devote 700 more police officers to public housing, install more security cameras and repair and improve door locks.
The 200 officers reassigned to street patrol, as part of the mayor’s budget agreement with City Council, will be assigned to public housing. With $21.4 million in funding, civilians will be hired in the coming months to take over vacant desk duties.
The city previously earmarked another $122 million to spare NYCHA from paying policing bills, freeing up money to pay for maintenance.
Another $50 million will pay for physical security improvements, $1.5 for exterior lighting and $15.6 to expand community programs, the mayor and other city officials said Tuesday.
“So much is going on here that’s going to fundamentally improve safety in NYCHA,” de Blasio said.
The announcement was made nearly a year after de Blasio, then only a mayoral candidate, spent a night at the Lincoln Houses with his teenage daughter. A few days later, a woman was shot and killed minutes from the same housing project.
“We’re not putting a band-aid on and calling it a day,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.”What we’re doing is tackling a problem head-on with both immediate and long-term solutions.”
Using the funds, community centers at NYCHA developments will be open until 11 p.m. through the summer. Next week, 150 light towers will be installed at those 15 developments, including the Wagner Houses.
Myrna Santiago, who lives at the Wagner Houses, said the towers would help improve security at night.
“There could be a little more light,” said Santiago, 56, who was born and raised at the development. “It’ necessary.”
But Wilson Santos, who works violence prevention group L.I.F.E. Camp, Inc., in Queens, was a little more cautious in his support of the plan.
“It’s a good idea, but $210 million dollars used in the wrong way or not used at all, then it’s a bad idea,” he said. “I want to see how it plays out.”
New York City’s $210 million NYCHA safety plan:
–$122 million to spare NYCHA from paying policing bills
–$21.4 million for civilization of 200 police officers
–$50 million for physical security improvements
–$1.5 million for exterior lighting at 15 NYCHA developments
–$15.6 million to expand community programs
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