This afternoon Mayor de Blasio and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced that the New York City Housing Authority would be getting a significant new influx of cash.
Approximately $101 million will be distributed across numerous NYCHA developments in order to finance "infrastructure upgrades, such as additional exterior and interior security cameras, exterior permanent lighting, new doors and layered (keyfob) access, as well as additional public safety evaluation and programming."
The announcement repeatedly refers to NYCHA's dire infrastructure needs and comes on the heels of Akai Gurley's death at the hands of a rookie NYPD officer, who shot the unarmed Gurley in an "accidental discharge." Gurley and the officer were both occupying what's been described as a poorly-lit stairwell at the Pink Houses, a NYCHA development in East New York. Today NBC also reported that the Pink Houses scored in the bottom 10 percent on a citywide NYCHA safety inspection, and that an estimated "1,300 health and safety deficiencies, including one 'life-threatening' deficiency" were found at that development alone.
In another incident this summer two children, Prince Joshua "P.J." Avitto, 6, and Mikayla Capers, 7, were brutally stabbed in the elevator of the Boulevard Houses, another East New York development. No security cameras captured footage of the attack on Avitto and Capers, though in the aftermath new cameras were installed.
Neither incident is explicitly mentioned in today's announcement, but Vance says, "We will not only establish the security infrastructure to enhance residential safety, but also build upon our commitment to fairness in the criminal justice system and the belief that a crime prevented is better than than a crime prosecuted."
Vance noted that only 5 percent of New Yorkers live in public housing, yet 20 percent of the city's violent crime occurs on NYCHA grounds. Mayor de Blasio boasted that the new $101 million will "go a long way toward bringing down crime in the developments that need it most by improving the physical environment."
The nine-figure surge of cash will come directly from the DA's office, paid for using assets that French bank BNP Paribas forfeited in July for violating U.S. financial sanctions.
The physical environment of many NYCHA facilities is in shocking disrepair. In August it was reported that the agency would need another $18 billion just to make the repairs and improvements needed to make all existing developments livable. Many individual units, as well as whole buildings, are infested with mold and still short on cameras.