When it was announced a few weeks ago that the cash-strapped New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was mulling over the idea to place billboards — possibly for booze and fast food — on the sides of its buildings, residents of the Sheepshead – Nostrand Houses, on Nostrand Avenue between Avenue V and Avenue X, came out against the idea, claiming “it would make many rundown buildings look even worse.”
The Housing Authority quietly circulated notice last week that it’s looking to hire a consultant to advise them on selling advertising space in developments that more than 400,000 people call home.
The unprecedented proposal sparked fears among residents that building lobbies, facades, courtyard benches or trash bins could be plastered with ads touting unhealthy products.
However, “Instead of placing billboards,” one resident told News 12, “we need more cameras for our safety.”
And what of those cameras, anyway, for the crime-infested housing projects that have seen murders in recent months and years spike along with an overall increase of violent crime plaguing Sheepshead Bay?
According to the Daily News:
Residents of the crime-plagued Sheepshead Bay Houses are still waiting for security cameras promised two years ago — even though $525,000 was budgeted for the project.
City Councilman Michael Nelson (D-Sheepshead Bay), who allocated the funds in 2009, charged the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) hasn’t moved ahead with the surveillance system — despite the constant shootings and drug-dealing that pervade the 18-building complex.
“It’s upsetting and frustrating. I’m so disappointed in them,” said Nelson. “Security cameras act as a deterrent and it helps catch perpetrators. I don’t know what the heck is going on here.”
… The violence prompted Nelson to press NYCHA for a start date for the cameras. Instead, NYCHA officials last month said they wanted to put in a new intercom system instead.
…“NYCHA doesn’t have the funding to install these systems at all developments but will install where elected officials have allocated discretionary funding,” she said in a statement.
It would be a “electronic key tags; intercoms that do not rely on telephone company wiring systems,” Stainback added. “NYCHA has identified the need to secure building entrances as a priority that is essential to improving the security of its developments.”
So instead of a camera system that could help authorities catch shooters and drug dealers, NYCHA is giving victims the tools to hobble over to an intercom after being shot, and politely ask for help from some faceless operator as they bleed out. This might have been useful back in 1989, but given the prevalence of cell phone use these days – especially among lower-income Americans who are also more sophisticated users – it seems like NYCHA is responding with antiquated technology for a crowd that doesn’t care for it.
Would it hurt so much to give the housing projects what they really need – and what they asked for?