Martha reports back from last night’s gathering of community leaders and residents on the subject of public housing:
Generously and warmly hosted by the Cavalary Baptish Church, last night’s event was an introduction to new chariman of the the New York City Housing Authority, Ricardo Morales. Organized by State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, the meeting also featured participation from Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez, and Congresswoman Nydia Velásquez (who celebrated her dilligent work bringing federal funding to a number of community organizations in Red Hook), among others.
Chariman Morales discussed the challenges facing public housing- cuts in funding, difficulties in apportioning state and city funds to public housing, and an overburdened, aging infrastructure. He stressed looking at problems comprehensively, hoping for systematic improvements ranging from a series of greening initiatives (new windows, centrally-monitored thermostats, etc.) to a reassessment of notoriously run-down (and often-expensively repaired) elevator systems.
Members of the community asked questions, with particular interest in the decreased operations of the important community PAL Miccio Center, while community organizations from Added Value to Red Hook Rise to your very own DTE spoke to the community about their work and services.
Chairman Morales stressed the importance of looking at issues facing the Red Hook Houses as “challenges, not problems,” and promised to work with the community to address these challenges. Hoping to show his commitment to this end, he mentioned that one way he has dealt with budget cuts is to cut his own central staffing, rather than making further cuts in the community centers directly associated with city housing projects.
While the meeting was more of an introduction and call to action, Martha did say she walked away with one very clear point. Again impressed by Red Hook’s political leaders, from the community level all the way to our federal representives, she mentioned how refreshing it was to see elected officials who were clearly plugged into the needs of their constituents, and who fought dilligently to see those needs met. Velmanette Mongtomery, she mentioned, knew the name of practically every person in attendance. “If you are feeling cynical about politicians,” Martha said, “I just hope you get the chance to see Red Hook’s elected officials in action.”