Delivering For Public Housing: Mayor de Blasio Announces Completion of 305 New Safety Lights and Expanded Programs to Reduce Crime at Brooklyn's Bushwick Houses

June 15, 2016

Exterior lighting key part of Mayor’s Action Plan – $140 million comprehensive effort to improve security at 15 NYCHA sites, home to nearly 62,000 residents

Bushwick MAP programs include after-hours youth programming and additional summer jobs, homework help and college prep, conflict-mediation training

NEW YORK — Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the completion of 305 new LED light fixtures across the Brooklyn development as part of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP). He was joined by New York City Housing Authority Chair Shola Olatoye, NYPD Housing Bureau Chief James Secreto, Amy Sananman from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and elected officials at Bushwick Houses. Since July 2014, MAP – a comprehensive strategy to reduce violence in 15 public housing developments – has enhanced collaboration between the New York City Police Department, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the New York City Housing Authority, and public housing residents to address crime reduction.

“We keep our promises to our public housing residents. Even as we put more police on the beat, we’re focused on driving down crime with everything from new lighting to youth programs that keep kids off the street at night,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We must continue to embrace a 21st century approach to crime reduction, focusing on improving police-community relations, bringing focused resources to underserved populations, and improving public spaces through upgrades.”

In its first year, the MAP strategy brought physical improvements to public housing and facilitated joint problem-solving between police and residents. The results so far have been promising. Between fiscal years 2014 and 2015, New York City saw a 6.9 percent decrease in violent crime, while violent crime in the 15 MAP developments dropped by 11.2 percent. Additionally, in March, MOCJ announced a comprehensive study in which 40 public housing developments will receive 400 exterior lights in an effort to evaluate the effect of light on crime.

Similarly, the Housing Authority has aggressively expanded security measures through the NextGeneration NYCHA plan. Since 2014, NYCHA has spent more than $64.6 million installing and upgrading CCTV safety cameras, bringing the total number of CCTV cameras portfolio-wide to more than 13,000. NYCHA has also greatly increased the number of Layered Access Control (LAC) doors. In March, NYCHA completed a $4.8M permanent lighting installation at Polo Grounds Towers in Harlem, which included 341 new light fixtures at the MAP site.
  
“Improving lighting at our developments is crucial to creating a safer, cleaner, and more connected NYCHA,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “The Mayor’s Action Plan is a powerful example of what collaboration can do to strengthen NYCHA and enhance quality of life for residents. These permanent new fixtures will ensure our development is well-lit and our residents feel safe within their communities.”

“The Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety is driven by the idea that deterring crime requires a broad array of strategies beyond traditional law enforcement,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. “We know that a well-lit street deters crime better than a dark alley, just as opportunities for work and play promote safety better than disadvantage and disconnection. Finishing the installation of 305 permanent lights at Bushwick Houses is an important next step in this Action Plan and an important milestone for public safety.”

“Every resident of Bushwick Houses – like all New Yorkers across this city – deserves a safe neighborhood to call home. Lighting is an important part of safety, and we at the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety are grateful for the united effort of residents, police, City agencies and community stakeholders to complete this lighting project,” said Amy Sananman, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. “MAP’s unique approach to public safety is much broader than enforcement, and we look forward to continuing to invest in the people, places and networks that are essential to safe, vibrant and connected communities.” 

To date, $140M has been allocated for security lighting, CCTV, and LAC at MAP sites, with funding from the City Council and Speaker, the Mayor’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Exterior lighting work has started at 10 sites, with 2 sites – Polo Grounds and Bushwick – complete; and CCTV/LAC work has started at 8 sites. In 2016, NYCHA expects to complete lighting installations at 7 sites, including Butler, St. Nicholas, Boulevard, Van Dyke I and Van Dyke II, Castle Hill, Stapleton, and Ingersoll; and plans to begin installing lighting in 4 more sites at an estimated cost of $24.6M. The new lighting installation is expected to be substantially completed at 13 of the 15 MAP sites by the end of 2017. Temporary light towers will remain in place at developments until all projects are completed. The next phase will be the installation of CCTV and LAC at these MAP sites. Construction is already underway at eight sites, with the bulk of the remaining site installations rolling out over the summer and fall of 2016. Most of the sites are estimated to be substantially completed by the end of 2018.

Active MAP initiatives at Bushwick Houses include the following:

  • ‘Summer hours’ at the youth center on campus. The center is open until 11 PM from June through September.
    • The Bushwick Houses’ youth center is run by Grand St. Settlement House
    • 3,057 people were served at the center during extended hours in 2015
  • Increased police presence on the ground by introducing 2 NCO officers (Neighborhood Coordination Officers) to the Bushwick campus.
  • Nearby ‘Kids in Motion’ physical fun activities 4 to 7 hours per day.
    • Classes served over 7,000 young people last year and continue this year.
  • Dedicated conflict mediation services through NY Peace Institute
  • 110 youth enrolled in Summer Youth Employment in 2015 (summer and calendar year)
  • 115 people assisted with public benefit enrollment in 2015 (over 200 HRA appointments held to assist individuals with access to benefits)
  • 496 grandparents engaged in events and workshops aimed at primary caregivers run by DFTA in 2015.

Additionally, the Grand Street Settlement at Bushwick Houses summer camp programs include:

  • Theatre & Dance, Anti-bullying, S.T.E.M, Film & Photography, Speech and Communication, Self-Expression, Current Events and Sports/Recreation, Building Beats (Music Production and Cents Ability – Financial Literacy)

Their evening programs will consist of:

  •  
    • Dance, Computer Coding, Building Beats (Music Production), Film & Photography, Civic Engagement, Health & Fitness, Job Club, Sex & Hygiene, Open Mic, Food Crafts and Film & Photography

Since MAP began, Bushwick Houses has seen a 58 pecent decrease in felony assaults compared to this period last year, as well as a 50 percent decrease in shootings year to date. This mirrors Police Service Area 3’s overall 31.2 percent decrease in shooting incidents.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said, “Brightly lit courtyards are an important part of our efforts to drive down violent crime, which continues to disproportionally affect NYCHA residents across the city. Together with measures like layered access and security cameras, improvements to NYCHA complexes’ infrastructures form the crux of my office’s $101 million long-term investment in improving safety in public housing citywide.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, "Public safety in public housing is a public imperative; it's as simple as that. We must shine a light, literally and figuratively, on every corner of NYCHA where danger may lurk for residents. It has been a priority for my administration to expand crime reduction measures at developments like Bushwick Houses such as exterior lighting, security cameras, and programs focused on long-term violence reduction strategies. Our shared goal is, and must continue to be, a brighter and safer future for all Brooklynites to raise healthy children and families, regardless of their address."

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said, “We must work at all levels of government to improve safety for NYCHA residents.  This includes investing in advanced light fixtures for public spaces and I am pleased to see the City moving forward with this installation. For my part, I will continue pushing in Congress for additional funding for capital investment in public housing.”

"Lighting has proven to be a simple and effect deterrent against crime in areas identified by Mayor de Blasio's action plan. When coupled with state of the art CCTV cameras and controlled access points, the reduction in crime is immediately noticeable. I thank Mayor de Blasio and the people of Bushwick Houses for this investment in public safety," said State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.

Council Member Antonio Reynoso said, “Residents of Bushwick Houses have identified increased lighting as a major priority for their development, and I would like to thank Mayor de Blasio for addressing this need and coming to Bushwick Houses to announce this important safety upgrade. The MAP program has already made a measurable difference at Bushwick Houses, increasing opportunities for residents to receive much needed resources, and the addition of new lighting will further improve safety for residents.”

Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Public Housing Committee said, “Investing resources in the installation of exterior lights at Bushwick Houses, as well as expanding programs and services for at-risk youth, will improve the lives of public housing residents and make the community safer. It is a positive step forward in ensuring that the Mayor’s Action Plan reduces crime in public housing developments across the city.”

Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Chair of Public Safety Committee, said, “NYCHA residents deserve to feel safe in their homes. Through MAP, we have been evaluating the public safety concerns of individual developments, and tailoring our work to best meet their needs. I am thankful that Bushwick Houses now has over 300 new outdoor safety lights to deter would-be criminals and allow residents to feel safe walking around their communities after dark. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice's Executive Director Elizabeth Glazer for prioritizing the safety of public housing residents and their ongoing commitment to the safety and security of all New Yorkers.”

Lenora Keith, Resident Association President of Tompkins Houses, said, "This safety plan will help to make us NYCHA residents feel safer and valued by the Mayor. For far too long we have felt neglected, not any more. We have a Mayor that is listening."?

Cynthia Simpson, Captain of Marcy Houses Green Committee, said, "For years all we wanted to do as NYCHA residents is be protected and safe. With this plan, the Mayor is taking steps to make that happen. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for making safety in our NYCHA developments a priority!"


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