Lessons from Times Square

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A picture on the Jamaica Times’ front page says all you need to know. Shanta Merritt is hugging a friend after learning her son, Darryl Adams, 18, has been shot to death two days before.

It is an anguish no parent should have to endure. And it is anguish too often repeated in public housing.

Merritt is angry with the New York City Housing Authority. After her son was shot the first time in June, she requested a transfer out of South Jamaica Houses. She was told NYCHA needed at least two police reports before action could be taken.

Just six days before her son was shot the second time and killed, her family was offered a transfer to a housing project in Harlem. She said that project was more dangerous than the place where she was living. She turned it down.

City Councilman Ruben Wills wants to know why the request for a transfer took so long.

It is easy to understand the delay. NYCHA has 161,000 people waiting for public housing and 120,000 waiting for Section 8 housing. NYCHA documents explain that NYCHA cannot guarantee how long it will take before a reassignment is made.

The problem is not that NYCHA is slow to respond to transfer requests. The real problem is that too much of the city’s public housing is dangerous.

This level of violence is not something the thousands of New Yorkers living in public housing should have to endure. It should not be a fact of life in the projects.

There was a time when politicians acknowledged that Times Square was a decadent and threatening place, but said nothing could be done about it. Ex-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani refused to accept that. He said enough and during his administration the area underwent a radical transformation.

Today, tourists can walk there at any time without fear.

That same war can be won in the city’s public housing. The hammer needs to come down on the violent gangs and drug dealers just as it did in Times Square. NYCHA is running out of alternatives. There is no safe place to where families can be transferred.

If Willis wants to hold a hearing, this should be the focus.

Posted 12:56 am, March 15, 2012
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Reader feedback

kim from queens says:
its easy put hd cams!! inall the stair cases on very floor,and hallways intrances back intrances elevd! ect you watch how fast the projects become 5th.ave.its not the projects it the people
March 25, 2012, 6:16 pm
bo from nyc says:
Times Square and projects - same thing! Not really. Unlike Times Square, the elements that make public housing dangerous eat, sleep, and do everything else there. That's home 24/7. And knowing every nook and cranny of those buildings and that neighborhood give the bad element a huge advantage. Your "hammer" is going to affect a lot of otherwise decent people. How about a scalpel?
March 26, 2012, 8:15 am

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