After 6-year-old P.J. Avitto was fatally stabbed in the elevator of a public housing complex in East New York, police had no surveillance footage of Avitto's killer because the city's housing authority had failed to install cameras. Mayor de Blasio expressed outrage that $42 million had been allotted for the cameras in 2012 and sat unused, and promised that they would be installed immediately. Now the Daily News reports that NYCHA could have gotten more help from the federal government to put the cameras in, but failed to file the proper paperwork.
HUD was offering $3 million in "emergency safety and security grants" to housing authorities all over the country. Given the 31% increase in crime in New York City's housing projects since 1995, NYCHA certainly qualified to received several hundred thousand dollars, roughly the amount needed to outfit a single development, but a HUD document stated their application "“was not complete and did not meet the minimum threshold requirements."
A NYCHA spokesperson told the News, "It's an error NYCHA regrets."
For years, New York City's chronically underfunded public housing authority has made life difficult for the 600,000 people who live in the system. Rats, mold, and decrepit infrastructure created a culture of neglect that made NYCHA developments dangerous places to live. Empty units sat vacant for years while hundreds of thousands of low income New Yorkers sat on a waitlist.
Mayor de Blasio pledged to take a "new approach" by appointing Shola Olatoye as NYCHA's chair.
“(De Blasio) blamed previous delays on ‘unacceptable bureaucracy,’ ” the Rev. David Brawley, a pastor at St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York told the News.
“Now we learn how little has changed for NYCHA residents over the past year under the mayor’s watch. The status quo has remained: ineptitude, distraction and neglect.”
Only 50% of NYCHA's buildings have cameras. According to the de Blasio administration, 70% of the cameras that have been funded are installed.