by Alissa Fleck
Violence is on the rise in the City this summer and cops blame everything from heat waves to the recession to tensions caused by—the ultimate hot-button issue—stop-and-frisk (or would that be the impending soda ban?). Unfortunately, either way, the City’s housing projects seem to suffer most in times like these. While it’s nearly impossible to point to the City’s most dangerous projects, here we report on conditions in four of the most problematic and dilapidated repeat-offenders.
“Cops Resond to Call for Jumper at Nostrand Houses, Turns Out to be Elevator Repairman” reads a recent headline from Sheepshead Bites, Sheepshead Bay’s self-proclaimed “only independent news blog.” The story continues: “If you saw heavy police activity turn up near [Sheepshead-Nostrand Housing Projects] at around 2:30 p.m. today, the answer is no, it wasn’t another violent incident in the [projects]. It was just an elevator repairman.”
Nonetheless, this mishap speaks volumes about what you can expect at Sheepshead-Nostrand on any given day. The blog also reported the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) recently recommended the NYPD implement terrorism task force technology in this Bed-Stuy housing project. A commenter on the blog speaks to the level of disrepair in the project: “What this goes to show is that seeing a repairman on a roof actually fixing something gave the residents such shock, that they could not comprehend as to why anyone would be up there.”
3. Brownsville Houses
Brownsville is the highest housing project concentration area in Brooklyn, and generally considered one of the City’s most dangerous neighborhoods. There are 18 projects in the mile and a half stretch of Brownsville, including the Brownsville development, which contains 27 buildings.
James Brodick, project director of Brownsville Community Justice Center, described Brownsville as 100,000 people “living on top of each other,” which certainly sounds like a recipe for disaster. Brodick also offered up generations of poverty issues and territorial disputes as deeply rooted causes the Brownsville projects have so much consistent trouble avoiding infamy’s spotlight.
2. Marcy Projects
News One For Black America released a list of “The 7 Most Infamous U.S. Public Housing Projects.” Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects ranked #2. While news reports point to the human danger in Bed-Stuy’s Marcy Projects, a perhaps greater concern is three-foot rats might get to you before anyone else does.
1. Pelham Parkway
It might be enough to say residents of the Pelham Parkway Complex in the Bronx, which recently witnessed the murder of an 88-year-old grandmother, refer to a section of the project as “Siberia” and refuse to set foot there. City Councilman James Vacca, who oversees the Bronx district that includes Pelham, knows exactly where Siberia is located. Violence spills over into the community, he reports, which manifests in the numerous shootings at stores just across the street. Again, violence and disrepair—a general overarching sense of apathy and hopelessness—seem to go hand-in-hand.
Vacca pointed to things which discourage Pelham residents most: “urine in the hallways…buzzer systems that do not work…inadequate lighting…the quality of life…the crime.” It’s essentially the lawlessness that pervades when people sense they’ve been forgotten.
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