Thursday, February 12, 2009

Housing Committee Victory!

¡Si Se Puede! Yes We Can!


After enduring many years of poor service and disrespect at the hands of their manager, local NYCHA public housing residents are claiming victory this week after an 8 month campaign to improve management at ER Moore, St. Mary's Park and Bronxchester Houses.

"Wake Up Call" rally to spread the word about the campaign

The campaign was launched in early Summer of 2008, after repeated requests for a meeting with Ms. Larrier to discuss sanitation and elevator issues went unanswered. In response - due to an overwhelming sense of frustration by residents - MOM Housing Committee leaders focused attention on building broad support for a campaign to have her replaced.

Campaign Highlights

This victory would not have happened without the high level of unity and collaboration between residents from the three NYCHA developments. MOM resident leaders, Tenant Association leaders at ER Moore Houses, and the South Bronx President of NYCHA Tenant Associations (Ms. Joane Smitherman) all worked to pressure NYCHA from different angles to see that the demands of residents were met. Over the course of the campaign, hundreds of residents stood up and let their voices be heard demanding the removal of their manager, Ms. Larrier, because of her lack of respect and accountability to the residents.

November 2008 MOM Housing Committee General Meeting
85 residents in attendance

The importance of leveraging support from local elected politicians was vital in getting NYCHA to the table to do the right thing. MOM leaders found support from the office of Congressman Jose Serrano, which helped to set up a meeting between MOM Housing Committee leaders and NYCHA officials in December. In addition, at MOM's November 2008 Organizational Meeting with NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, leaders presented a variety concerns, including the demands of our campaign for better management. At the same time, Tenant Association leaders at ER Moore Houses also worked with NYCHA Board Member Margarita López to air out their concerns.

The power of local residents working together to hold a variety of decision-makers (elected officials and NYCHA officials) accountable let to NYCHA making this long-overdue change.

MOM Core Committee Leaders Maria Quinones, (Bronxchester Houses), Jipsy Vargas, (Bronxchester), Niecy Selby (St. Mary's), Lou Torres (TA President, ER Moore Houses), Geraldine Smith (ER Moore)

Meeting with Carlos Carino, Bronx liason to the NYC Council


Throughout the campaign, local public housing residents stepped up to the responsibility of leadership and used the media to spread our message about the campaign to the larger community. Through trainings and lots of practice, Housing Justice Committee members crafted strategic messages which brought attention to the campaign and its central demands: remove Ms. Larrier and replace her with a more accessible, culturally sensitive manager who will respect the needs of residents.

On point with our Message: Residents Deserve Respectful Management!

At the same time, the Housing Justice Committee worked with our ally, the Urban Justice Center, to survey the experiences of local residents with their manager and to give her a "Report Card" on her performance, which leaders then presented to NYCHA at its Annual Public Hearing.

MOM Leader Mikkee Watson provides testimony and gives NYCHA
a "Report Card" at the Annual NYCHA Public Hearing, Fall 2008

Click HERE to see the full report on the results of our survey "Improving the Quality of Life in South Bronx Public Housing: A Study of Bronxchester, ER Moore and St. Mary's Park NYCHA Developments."

In early February Ms. Larrier was replaced with a new manager, Mr. Barry Levine. MOM Housing Justice Committee members will be working with Mr.Levine to establish a relationship to prevent the kind of miscommunication and neglect which residents experienced with the previous manager.

We will keep you updated on any new developments in this campaign... With our first local housing victory it is time to CELEBRATE the power of public housing residents!!! When NYCHA residents join together in unity and take leadership to make change, there is truly no limit to the changes that will can come>>>>