Neighbors Voice Their Concerns About the Oversaturation of Public Programs
Community Board 3 opened its first meeting in 2010 with a public hearing addressing the growing concern for the oversaturation of Public Programs in the area. For the past 10 years, residents have been constantly complaining about the numerous and abundance of programs being allowed into our community.
As a resident and home owner in Bedford-Stuyvesant, I can certainly attest to this growing concern. On our block of Bainbridge Street between Malcolm X Blvd. and Patchen Avenue alone has 4 Single-Room Occupancy residents, 2 half-way homes and several other social service programs in operation. Unfortunately, our concern for the quality of life for our neighbors and safety for our children is shared by numerous other blocks. Yet, our cries are going unanswered.
Demetrius Mills, who resides on the northern tip of Bedford-Stuyvesant, was one of the first to state his grievances. Since 2000, he has been fighting to have some of the numerous programs infiltrating the community designated to other areas. However, so far it has been a losing battle. Currently his area alone houses a women’s shelter, domestic violence facility, a methadone clinic and numerous other social service programs. According to Mr. Mills, there were over 1 thousand agencies listed in Bed-Stuy in CB3 alone; today, that number is estimated to have doubled.
As a father and homeowner, Mr. Mills has witnessed drug usage and sexual acts performed right under his window. On more than one occasion he, as well as his teenage son, have been propositioned. In addition to the prostitution, Mr. Mills fears for the safety of his family and had an alarming encounter when a mentally ill patient wandered in his home and confronted his wife and son.
Nancy Russell, a former manager at NYC Department of Homeless Services, and current President of the Tri Block Association, argued that the concern of most residents is not “rejection of the homeless, needy or poor, but equality and fairness.” She suggested that CB3 identify alternative sites where these programs can be housed.
Linda Simmons, Vice President of the Jefferson Avenue Block Association lives in fear. Within a 2-block radius, she shares residence with 2 schools, 3 day care centers and several Level 3 sex offenders. This fear has created an unhealthy lifestyle for her children who are forbidden to go out and spend most of their time in the house. “With physical education classes being taken out of the school system, my kids and grandchildren unfortunately have no means of exercise. I am too afraid to let them go to the park fearing they may encounter the sex offenders.”
Ms. C. Doris Pinn, who co-chairs The Housing Land/Use Committee, assured those in attendance that their complaints have been heard and that Community Board 3 has been and will continue to utilize all of its resources to combat and resolve the issue.
Other concerns addressed included the renaming of The Bradford Apartments which is scheduled to undergo construction this year. The site, which is located on the corner of Fulton Street and Albany Avenue, is currently scheduled to be named after the unsavory “Bradford” pear tree that produces an inedible nut and large white flowers with a pungent odor. CB3 is currently holding a contest to rename the block in honor of something, or someone with significance. Pradine Content, a representative from the Census Bureau, ended the evening by asking everyone to encourage others to fill out their census form. According to Ms. Content, Bedford-Stuyvesant is considered a “hard to count” community with less than 60% of its residents participating in the 2000 census.
There are many events, activities and initiatives that are taking place in the month of January. However, one in particular merits mentioning. On Saturday, January 16, Voices of Action Against Violence, Parents United to Rally for Gun-Violence Elimination (PURGE) and Calvary Fellowship AME Church are joining forces for Step Up and Take a Stand. The special forum will address the issue of the growing concern of gun violence in our community and will include special guest speaker Graham Weatherspoon of Black Law Enforcement Alliance.