Although he was born in Downtown Brooklyn, Haynes moved to Astoria Houses when he was 14 years old.
“I thought we were rich when I saw the big water and our building was sitting right there,” he said. “I said, ‘mom, we moved to Manhattan’ because we saw the skyline and everything. They have a beautiful view.”
Growing up with six siblings, Haynes said his father was big on education. He made sure all of his brothers and sisters got through school.
Haynes started off working in construction, but went to work with NYCHA as a seasonal employee. From there, he moved up to do grounds work, then to the boilers and finally to maintenance, where he spent 17 years.
Haynes was promoted to supervisor, and 26 years into his career at NYCHA, he’s now an assistant superintendent at Ravenswood Houses.
“The housing authority has a nice in-house deal where you take tests and you move along,” he said. “Qualifications do matter.”
Haynes is responsible for the maintenance of 2,166 apartments throughout the complex. Whether it’s electrical, plumbing, painting or floor tiles, as long as it’s inside an apartment, Haynes oversees it.
His favorite part of the job is seeing residents happy with the completion of the work. It gives Haynes a sense of accomplishment.
“I’m a lifter,” he said. “I like to lift people up, mentally and physically.”
Now living near Astoria Park, Haynes’s life in public housing has come full circle. He said he would like to keep working at NYCHA, move up a few steps and eventually retire. Well, sort of.
“If you like what you do, you never retire,” he said.