Mayor Bill de Blasio made an appearance at the East New York projects last Wednesday, June 11, to discuss new technological safety efforts in 49 housing developments around the city.
“In the course of just the last week,” de Blasio said, “$27 million worth of cameras, all that was allocated previously by the New York City Council, were formally registered so that work can begin. That which did not happen previously, which stood in the way of progress, was resolved in the course of a week, literally, because everyone had a clear order that it had to happen.”
Physical work began that day with some minor construction in one of the buildings. Installation should be fully complete by October.
“NYCHA's start on the camera installation at Boulevard, in fact, kicks off an extensive installation process at some 48 other developments around the city,” said Shola Olatoye, chair and chief executive officer of NYCHA. “Now, with an accelerated approval process that the mayor alluded to, this work can proceed.”
With NYCHA's needs often put on the back burner in city government, Comptroller Scott Stringer said that NYCHA is now a top priority.
“Cameras are vital and important, but it's the first step in keeping communities safe,” Stringer said. “For too long, we've treated NYCHA as a stepchild to the rest of the city. The population of NYCHA is the size of the city of Boston, but we certainly don't treat NYCHA that way.”
Alongside the cameras, more safety measurements will be taken, including better lighting throughout the buildings and more durable doors to prevent intruders.
Programs for the young residents will also be implemented, such as recreational and after-school programs intended to steer young people of the communities in the right direction by giving them a positive way to spend their time.
“We will be getting programs, and now we have the roundtable and things are going to be done out here,” Tenants Association President Inez Rodriguez said.
With $27 million put in to begin the installation of cameras in the developments, $500,000 will be put aside for the 18 cameras being installed in the Boulevard Houses, located at 696 Stanley Ave., according to a NYCHA spokesman.
St. Paul Community Baptist Church Pastor David Brawley said he hopes the initiative marks a new day for East New York.
“Today really feels like a groundbreaking,” Brawley said. “Now I participated in many groundbreaking ceremonies and there is always anticipation, energy and excitement. But the real celebration comes when you get to the ribbon cutting. And there is not going to be a ribbon cutting until all 334 developments have security surveillance cameras in place.”