The NYC Housing Authority is under fire today for its failure to install surveillance cameras in the city's public housing developments. Over the past eight years, $42 million has been allocated to the NYCHA to install cameras in the projects, but none have been installed. According to the Daily News, the NYCHA "froze the City Council funds so it could create a task force to develop a full-time, coordinated monitoring system for its 334 projects." And this alleged foot-dragging has inspired rhetorical bloodlust in NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
In a statement released today, de Blasio, who served as Regional Director for New York and New Jersey at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, rants thus:
The Housing Authority’s foot-dragging stands in stark contrast to City Hall’s assurances that it’s doing everything possible to protect New Yorkers. These delays have put at risk the lives of residents and the police officers who protect them. Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD need to step in and get these cameras in place.
We cannot stop there. This scandal goes far beyond the usual bureaucracy and waste we have come to expect at NYCHA, and demands immediate accountability. It is time for Commissioner Rhea to step up, investigate, and fire those responsible. We have seen enough—heads must roll.
Unfortunately, de Blasio's statement was not accompanied with video showing him flipping over his desk, tossing a chair through the window and biting the head off a puppy, but we'll work with what we got. As far as the Housing Authority is concerned, well, good food takes time? Spokeswoman Sheila Stainback says the NYCHA is "currently developing the scope of work (number of CCTV cameras, placement and electronic access control) for each location and has awarded installation contracts." (Just inch your neck out a teeny bit further, Sheila.)
Currently, security cameras that are monitored full time are active in just 5% of NYCHA projects, which, all told, house 5% of city residents while accounting for 20% of the city's crime. Last week, a 3-year-old boy was shot during a gun battle at Brooklyn's Roosevelt Houses. There are a dozen cameras at that development, which is comprised of nine buildings, but none are monitored around the clock.