NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) today announced the completed installation of 504 new lights to improve public safety at Boulevard Houses in Brooklyn. NYCHA replaced the development’s outdated exterior lighting system with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient lighting located at entrances, walkways and parking areas.
“We are continuing to deliver on our promise to public housing residents to make their communities safer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This lighting installation – which brings 504 new lights to Brooklyn’s Boulevard Houses – follows the installation of 305 new safety lights at Bushwick Houses. Exterior safety lighting is one vital tool in the larger effort to decrease violence in public housing.”
“Creating safer, cleaner and more connected communities means brightening our developments to ensure residents feel secure in their neighborhoods,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “Through this collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the NYPD, NYCHA is bringing safety enhancements to developments across the city. Here at Boulevard, this state-of-the-art lighting will improve quality of life for residents, strengthening the community.”
“MAP’s unique approach to public safety extends far beyond traditional law enforcement, because we know that bright, vibrant spaces and access to resources allow communities to thrive,” said Amy Sananman, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. “The installation of 504 new lighting fixtures puts Boulevard Houses on pace to continue the downward trend in violent crime across NYCHA’s MAP developments and citywide.”
The installation of 504 new lighting fixtures at Boulevard Houses is part of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP), a comprehensive strategy to reduce violence and increase neighborhood safety at the 15 NYCHA development sites that accounted for 20 percent of all violent crime in public housing in 2014. Convened in July 2014 and operated by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, MAP enhances collaboration between the New York City Police Department, NYCHA, City service agencies and public housing residents to reduce crime and build stronger neighborhoods.
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. For the second year in a row, crime is down at NYCHA’s MAP developments compared to 2014, with violent crime down 7 percent and shootings down 17 percent. Additionally, in March, MOCJ announced a comprehensive study in which 40 public housing developments received 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 citywide to more than 13,000. NYCHA has also greatly increased the number of Layered Access Control (LAC) doors. So far this year, NYCHA has completed lighting installations at three MAP sites, including a $4.8 million permanent lighting installation at Polo Grounds Towers in Harlem, which included 341 new light fixtures, and a $4.1 million permanent lighting installation at Bushwick Houses in Brooklyn, which included 305 new light fixtures.
To date, $140 million has been allocated for security enhancements at MAP sites, including lighting, CCTV and LAC, 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 11 sites, with 3 sites – Polo Grounds, Bushwick, and Boulevard Houses – complete; and CCTV/LAC work has started at 9 sites.
In 2016, NYCHA expects to complete lighting installations at another 6 MAP sites, including Butler, St. Nicholas, Van Dyke I and Van Dyke II, Castle Hill, Stapleton, and Ingersoll; and plans to begin installing lighting in 3 more sites at an estimated cost of $20.8 million. The new lighting installation is expected to be completed at 13 of the 15 MAP sites by the end of 2017. Temporary light towers will remain in place at MAP 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.
Since MAP began, crime at Boulevard Houses is down 4.1 percent compared to this period last year, with murders flat at zero to date and a 75 percent drop in robberies. This mirrors the 1.9 percent drop in crime for Police Service Area 2, with murders also flat and robberies down 15.6 percent. NYCHA-wide, shootings are down 16.5 percent year to date.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said, "Residents in New York City's public housing have a right to feel safe in around their own homes. This project is a critical step toward the wide-ranging effort to ensure that happens. NYCHA leaders and all involved should be applauded for their effort in this regard."
"Good lighting deters crime and promotes public safety,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “The installation of new exterior lighting at the Boulevard Houses, which is part of my Office’s $101 million commitment to improve NYCHA security, will enhance residential safety and quality of life for thousands of New Yorkers.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “After the stabbing of a six-year-old and a seven-year-old in a poorly-lighted elevator at Boulevard Houses in 2014, I called on NYCHA to help eliminate the darkness. In my 22 years with the NYPD, I remember the difficulty of patrolling areas where dark shadows allowed criminals to conceal their activities and families were afraid to walk at night. Improved exterior lighting at Boulevard Houses in East New York will dramatically improve public safety for police officers and community residents, preventing many crimes from ever occurring.”
State Senator Roxanne Persaud said, "I commend NYCHA for completing the installation of the much needed safety lighting at Boulevard Houses in a timely fashion. Installing state of the art lighting in these NYCHA buildings show that the Authority is moving closer to the NEXT Generation NYCHA goal of creating the safe, clean and connected communities that they have envisioned. It is important that NYCHA continues to elevate the standards of living for the residents of public housing. This is an important step in the right direction. I also commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for this collaboration which shows a commitment to our public housing residents."
Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the City Council Committee on Public Housing, said, “Quality exterior lighting is a key component in deterring crime at our NYCHA developments. The completion of the $5.1 million lighting project at Boulevard Houses highlights the City’s commitment to creating a safer environment for public housing residents. I applaud the efforts made by the Mayor and Chair Olatoye to address crime reduction strategies at our NYCHA properties.”
Tenant Association President Inez Rodriguez said, “I want to thank the Housing Authority and the Mayor’s Office for bringing these lights to our community. Now, our residents, our children, our youth, our seniors – and our police officers, who protect us – can walk the grounds of Boulevard Houses safely, which will make our whole neighborhood stronger.”