A Kinder, Gentler NYCHA?

Artist Elizabeth Hamby works on a mural with a young resident at Betances Community Center on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy of Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, via Mott Haven Herald)

Artist Elizabeth Hamby works on a mural with a young resident at Betances Community Center on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy of Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, via Mott Haven Herald)

The New York City Housing Authority is starting to bring a more human touch to its dealings with residents of public housing in the city, as demonstrated by recent efforts in the South Bronx at the Betances Houses Community Center on Brook Avenue, reports Maura Ewing in Mott Haven Herald.

About 50 residents gathered for film screenings, a mural painting workshop and other activities and discussions. Tanya Dempsey, a NYCHA official, was on hand to introduce one of the films.

As a representative of the unpopular agency that runs the city’s housing projects, Dempsey knew she was fighting an uphill battle in trying to win over the locals to participate in the housing initiative. “Trying to bring NYCHA into the community and the community into NYCHA, it’s not an easy feat,” she said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised to change the way the city handles public housing, and to make the notoriously bureaucratic housing agency more accessible for residents. Recent changes Dempsey said she has implemented as program development director under the new regime include weekly office hours for residents to come air grievances about maintenance problems, and monthly planning meetings with tenant leaders.

Read more about NYCHA’s plans, which includes submitting a plan to the federal Housing and Urban Development Department for its Choice Neighborhood Initiative, to help bring quality of life improvements to various housing complexes and sections of the South Bronx.

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