The demonstration outside of 1786 Prospect Plaza held on November 13, was to bring attention to promises the New York City Housing Authority had made but not fulfilled as part of the HUD-funded $100 million HOPE VI Community Revitalization Project Ocean/Hill Brownsville.
Milton Bolton, president of the Prospect Plaza Tenants Association, said, “There’s been no training and nothing done to allow the Tenants Association to contact the relocated tenants. When we speak with the NYCHA we keep hearing that they’re ‘working on it,’ but they don’t give us a timetable.”
We spoke with Mr. Bolton a week later in the offices of the Committee to Honor Black Heroes. He reported that NYCHA reached out to him on Monday, November 17. “We received twelve vouchers for computer training.” He showed us the vouchers. They had been issued by New Horizons Computer Learning Centers on March 11, 2003, and expire March 11, 2004. “We’re just getting them now.”
The organization chart for the original application shows that the responsibility for “Resident Education, Initiatives and Training” falls directly to the HOPE VI unit at the New York City Housing Authority and, according to Mr. Bolton, the issuance of the vouchers is the first evidence of that mission.
” NYCHA is not supplying money for the Tenants Association to make contact with our members,” Mr. Bolton says. “The training program is supposed to include money for transportation and child care but there’s been no mention of that. This kind of disrespect has been going on for five years now.”
Support for the tenants came from Frank Pitt, formerly of the Jive Five singing group, who is in charge of the tenant patrol for 85 Navy Walk at Ingersoll Houses. He and other tenants work in concert with the housing police and from 7pm-9pm sit at a lobby table where visitors have to sign in. “We keep people from selling drugs in the hallway and it gives people in the building a sense of security.” He said that residents were concerned about the renovation going on at their complex. “People want to know they will have a guarantee of being returned.”
As a next step, Bolton wants to speak to decision-makers who can turn this situation around. “We want to meet with Tina Hernandez, director of NYCHA, and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. We believe the Deputy Mayor understands the HOPE VI project and what should be done for the tenants at Prospect Plaza. We think the problem can be solved at their level.”