HOPE VI: What Happens to a Dream Hijacked?
Prospect Plaza Tenants Association Speaks Out on Hope VI Situation
What happens to a dream hijacked? It becomes HOPE VI at Prospect Plaza. The original 2 « inch thick two-volume application details a plan of the best intentions. It was a plan to revitalize people and housing. It was an opportunity for people who haven’t had much of a first chance to have a second chance at life. To take all that they’ve learned from the hard years, combine it with the training and the opportunities promised, and remake their lives, and by doing so, uplift the whole community.
Instead, HOPE VI has been turned into a grotesque display of politicians, reverends and vendors, foxes watching the wolves watching the $100 million hen house. The welfare of the residents is the last thing on their minds. And referring to the “community leaders” in that crew, the aiders and abetters in this crime, Prospect Plaza resident Gwendolyn Wilson said, “The last time my people heard from you, we ended up on a ship coming over here” They talk that talk about loving the people, but they can’t walk a straight line and follow a clear plan. They can’t do it because everybody in their posse gets theirs only as long as NYCHA can do what it wants. And so that the tri-headed monster of greed, White Supremacy and sheer bureaucratic callousness is being allowed to bring pain to the lives of people who are poor and Black.
This monster, as always, uses technology as a weapon to prey on the weak. Whether it is the Gatling gun against the spear or Outlook Express against a tenant organization given no phones and no training, the technology wins, they call it progress and that is what is happening at Prospect Plaza in Brooklyn, New York.
And now there is an added complication. At a recent meeting of Community Board 3, attendees tell of derogatory comments directed at former residents of Prospect Plaza from some residents of the new housing at HOPE VI. “Those N____ don’t need to come back,” is the level the discussion is reported to have devolved to. This is fear talking and it has to be addressed. These residents are not trespassers. Their homes were always slated for market value sales. They now have mortgages to pay while trying to raise children with decent friends. They have to come home late from work, the second job, or classes to advance their position. They know what stress is and they don’t need more, particularly when it looks like what they were struggling so hard to leave.
We spoke with officers of the Prospect Plaza Tenants Association, named in the original plan as the interface between the New York City Housing Authority and the tenants. Present were Milton Bolton, president, George Allen, vice president and Priscilla Davis. We later spoke with other former residents including Gwendolyn Wilson by telephone.