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Marches, Melees, and Arrests During May Day Activities Across Town

Photos of the march across the Williamsburg Bridge, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and the Wildcat March by Jared Malsin.

As documented on The Local’s liveblog, demonstrations and arrests took place across the city today as anarchists, union members, Occupy Wall Street supporters, employees of The Strand, residents of public housing in Alphabet City, and even banjo players used May Day as an occasion to protest the status quo.

The proceedings were for the most part orderly, but scuffles broke out when approximately 200 demonstrators, many dressed in black and some covering their faces, assembled in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, at Second Avenue and Houston Street, at 1 p.m. for a pre-planned, unpermitted “Wildcat March.” Read more…

Cameras at Campos Plaza Can’t Come Soon Enough for Residents

DSC08936Suzanne Rozdeba Attendees at last night’s meeting regarding the new cameras.

Residents of Campos Plaza expressed optimism last night that new high-tech security cameras would deter the violence that they said has left many of them living in fear.

“I am scared for a lot of our lives here in this development. I am scared for our kids, for ourselves, for our elderly, for us all,” said Dereese Huff, president of the Campos Plaza tenants association. “We need these cameras.”

The surveillance equipment, financed by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, will be installed in pathways, playgrounds and lobbies around the houses bordered by East 13th and 14th Streets and Avenues B and C. Public officials hope to have 16 cameras for each of the four building at Campos Plaza. Ms. Mendez has secured $400,000 for the cameras, which is roughly half of the total needed to cover the entire complex. The cameras would monitor both inside and outside the buildings and will be connected to a network than can be observed from a central location.

An official with the New York City Housing Authority sought to dispel any notions of a “Big Brother”-style system.
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More Than $14,000 Behind on Rent, She’s Telling the City to Put a Deal in Writing

IMG_Pat  James 20624Evan Bleier

Patricia James has been a resident of the Two Bridges public housing complex for more than half of her 67 years. About two years ago, mice began entering her apartment through holes underneath the radiators. The rodents, she said, were eating her food, nesting in her clothes and disrupting her family life. “At night my grandchildren can’t stay over,” she told The Local. “They get in the bed.” She said the New York City Housing Authority failed to fix the problem, so she stopped paying her $517-per-month rent.

In March of 2011, the Housing Authority deemed Ms. James chronically delinquent and began eviction proceedings. Between her back rent and other fees, she now owes more than $14,000.

After a month of negotiations between her lawyer and the city, the two parties have come to an agreement in principle, and Ms. James has readied a cashier’s check for $15,000. But she hasn’t yet turned it over. The Housing Authority, she said, has pledged to allow her to remain in her apartment so long as she pays the back rent, but it has refused to put it in writing — an odd tactic that her lawyer says he has never confronted in 35 years of practice. Read more…

Apparent Shooting at Campos Plaza II on 13th Street [Updated]

A police helicopter circled over Alphabet City earlier this morning as officers looked for evidence of an apparent shooting. Around 12:45 a.m., police that were working in the cordoned-off courtyard of N.Y.C.H.A.’s Campos Plaza II complex at 641 East 13th Street as well as the street in front of the Pedro Albizu Campos Community Center at 611 East 13th Street – both between Avenues B and C – were unable to confirm reports of a shooting, and a N.Y.P.D. representative did not yet have details of the incident, but The Local’s Blair Hickman reported hearing “something like a firecracker sound” near Seventh Street and Avenue A. Another Twitter user, Stephanie Begg, also reported hearing a “loud firecracker noise.”

We’ll share more information as it becomes available. If you know anything about the incident, please e-mail The Local.

Update, 11:35 a.m. | The police now confirm that around 12:15 a.m. they received reports of shots fired in the courtyard of Campos Plaza II. A 19-year-old Hispanic male was shot in the leg and taken to Beth Israel hospital, where he remains in stable condition. No arrests have been made, no suspect has been identified, and the investigation is ongoing.

An Empty Lot Becomes A Park, Thanks to Mr. Peanut

A grassy field that was once the site of a demolished building in the Lillian Wald housing complex has been transformed into a park. Planters Grove, which was funded by the Planters company, opened earlier today with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a day of planting, mulching and peanut munching. Representatives from Planters handed out black top hats, one of which Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh donned during a speech praising the “greening of the New York City Housing Authority.”

The park’s centerpiece is a trellis (shaped like a peanut, naturally) that in the spring will hold clematis and climbing roses. “I like that it is kind of subtle and you can’t really tell it is a peanut,” said Lisbeth Shepherd, the founder and executive director of Green City Force, one of the two non-profits that worked with Planters and the New York City Housing Authority on the park’s construction. (The other was the national Corps Network.) Read more…

Disabled Man Waits Six Years for Proper Housing From NYCHA

untitled.jpgStephen Rex Brown Robert Campbell.

A handicapped resident of the Lillian Wald Houses says his apartment is in such a sorry state that it is literally killing him.

Robert Campbell is a burn victim who sleeps on a couch because his roughly 9-by-11-foot apartment doesn’t have room for an electric bed that would allow him to sleep on an incline, as ordered by doctors. He says odors from a dumpster beneath his 12th-floor studio hurt his lungs, which were severely damaged by an electrical fire in 1988. The blaze burned over 80 percent of his body and resulted in numerous surgeries and the amputation of fingers on his left hand. His doctors have implored the New York City Housing Authority to put him in a three-room apartment since 2003, because even the pilot light in Mr. Campbell’s oven hurts his skin.

“I just want to get in a proper apartment and have this nightmare be over with,” said Mr. Campbell, 58. “I’ve never lived like this before.” Read more…

Despite Stimulus, Problems at LES II

LES II ChristieIan Duncan Ruth Christie at home in her Lower East Side II apartment. Residents of the public housing project complain of damaged facilities and strong smells of sewage.

Ruth Christie was staying in wearing her pajamas and watching movies on VHS. She finds it hard to go out as she must constantly be attached to her oxygen tank to deal with her emphysema.

She has a motorized wheelchair but struggles to maneuver it out of her cramped apartment by herself. “Walking does a number on my breathing,” Ms. Christie, who is 59, said.

Ms. Christie said her condition worsened after she moved to Lower East Side II eight years ago. Residents of LES II complain of dark brown water coming from their taps. When washing machines are running, wastewater finds its way into the pipes, they say.

Residents also complain of intermittent heat and a smell of sewage. As early as February this year the smell was strong and according to Ms. Christie it gets worse most summers.

The Obama Administration turned on the stimulus tap just over two years ago, dedicating funds to improving the quality of public housing. $423 million was given to New York City to fix up its projects. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan chose the Rutgers Houses on the Lower East Side to announce the New York package in March 2010. “It’s probably the most significant preservation action in the history of public housing,” he said at the time.

Of the total, $1 million reached LES II and was invested in roof repairs. That work was completed last fall. The problem is that what the project probably needs is a new plumbing system, Marquis Jenkins, then a community organizer at Good Old Lower East Side, told the Local in February.

Read more…