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  December 16, 2012

Public Housing Tenants Demand Accountability From Authorities after Superstorm Sandy


Brooklyn residents win concessions from New York City Public Housing Authority after weeks without heat and power
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transcript

Public Housing Tenants Demand Accountability From Authorities after Superstorm SandyITS BEEN MORE THAN SIX WEEKS SINCE SUPERSTORM SANDY TORE THROUGH THE MID ATLANTIC REGION, LEAVING MILLIONS WITHOUT POWER AND TENS OF THOUSANDS HOMELESS. WHILE LIFE IN SOME AFFECTED AREAS HAS RETURNED TO NORMAL, OTHER PLACES CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE. BUT ONE COMMUNITY IN BROOKLYN HAS DEMANDED ACCOUNTABILITY, AND GOTTEN SOME OF THEIR DEMANDS MET.

Sheryl Braxton (Red Hook Houses resident)

"Hi my name is Sheryl, Sheryl Braxton"

SHERYL BRAXTON HAS LIVED IN THE RED HOOK HOUSING PROJECTS -- BROOKLYN’S LARGEST -- FOR FOUR DECADES. WALKING DOWN BAY STREET WHICH WAS UNDER SIX FEET OF WATER, SHE POINTS OUT WHERE SANDY HIT THE NEIGHBORHOOD HARD.

Sheryl Braxton (Red Hook Houses resident)

"To my right is the tall projects, the tall projects in the back where all the lights and water, hot water, heat everything went out. I’m going to walk toward where the rest of Sandy had flooded,which is where I live at. "

ALONG WITH THE PUBLIC HOUSING DEVELOPMENT, NEIGHBORING HOMES AND BUSINESSES ARE ALSO STILL RECOVERING FROM THE STORM.

Sheryl Braxton (Red Hook Houses resident)

“Right now you are looking at garbage that’s right out in front of the 99 cent store. The beauty parlor, 99 cent store, and the metro store which has not opened yet since Sandy,”

MANY PEOPLE LOST HEAT, POWER AND WATER AFTER THE STORM, AND THE RED CROSS AND FEMA TOOK DAYS TO ARRIVE.

Alisa Pizarro (Organizer, Red Hook Initiative)

“It sent a message they didn’t care about people who live in public housing, you know I felt I was not counted.

TENANT ALISA PIZARRO WORKS AT THE RED HOOK INITIATIVE, A COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION THAT BECAME A CENTRAL HUB FOR RELIEF EFFORTS. LOCAL RESIDENTS, COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS AND OCCUPY ACTIVISTS PROVIDED FOOD, WATER AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES FOR THOUSANDS OF TENANTS.NOW, THEY’RE PRESSING FOR ANSWERS FROM THE NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY ABOUT THE PACE OF CURRENT RECOVERY, AND WHAT CHANGES NEED TO BE MADE TO PREVENT A SIMILAR CATASTROPHE IN THE FUTURE.

Alisa Pizarro (Organizer, Red Hook Initiative)

“They need look at what they have in case damages like that when a storm hits and then think about the people that live in those places. And don’t have those people wait weeks before they get their power, water I mean we couldn’t do essentials like take showers, couldn't flush the toilet.

THE HOUSING AUTHORITY REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO ANSWER TRRN'S QUESTIONS CONCERNING ALLEGATIONS OF SLOW DISASTER RELIEF AND RECOVERY BUT DID RESPOND IN A STATEMENT SAYING THEY ARE WORKING HARD TO RESTORE ELECTRICAL AND HEATING SYSTEMS DAMAGED BY THE STORM.

Issac Gil(Red Hook Houses resident)

"What it feels like to live without power. I can’t really answer that question.Unless you go through it Then you know how it feels."

RESIDENTS LIKE ISSAC GIL HAVE ALSO HAD TO APPEAL TO THE CITY TO PROVIDE IMMEDIATE RENT CREDITS AND SUSPEND EVICTIONS. THE HOUSING AUTHORITY INITIALLY REFUSED AND INSTEAD OFFERED A RENT CREDIT FOR JANUARY 2013.

BUT THAT WOULDN’T HELP GIL AND MANY OTHER LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS WHO LOST JOBS AND INCOME DUE TO THE STORM.

Issac Gil(Red Hook Houses resident)

"Without power for 2 weeks, 76 year old mother, no phone, Verizon has not put on our phones to this date. I can’t go out the house need to stay there with my mom. I lost my job due to the storm, Because I work in Staten Island and its on South Ave and they got affected by the storm too."

AFTER SEVERAL MEETINGS WITH THE HOUSING AUTHORITY AND A RALLY AT THE AGENCY’S HEADQUARTERS, OFFICIALS SAID THEY WOULD SUSPEND EVICTIONS UNTIL JANUARY 1ST. RESIDENTS WERE STILL NOT SATISFIED AND PUSHED OFFICIALS UNTIL THEY AGREED TO EXTEND THAT DATE TO FEBRUARY 1.

BUT BRAXTON SAYS THERE’S STILL PLENTY RESIDENTS ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT INCLUDING ONGOING POWER, HEAT AND HOT WATER OUTAGES CAUSED BY THE CONTINUED USE OF GENERATORS HOUSED IN LARGE OUTDOOR TRAILERS.

Sheryl Braxton (Red Hook Houses resident)

To my right is the boiler that’s what actually we get heat, hot water and from these boilers on the side. which are temporary boilers. soon, we supposed to get permanent boilers. "

BRAXTON AND OTHER RESIDENTS ARE MEETING WITH HOUSING AUTHORITY OFFICIALS AGAIN FRIDAY. THEY WANT ANSWERS ON WHEN UTILITIES WILL BE FULLY RESTORED AND WHY FEMA WAS SLOW TO RESPOND TO RESIDENTS. THEY ALSO HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIALLY CONTAMINATED WATER SUPPLIES AND CHEMICAL RESIDUE WASHED UP FROM THE FLOODING. BRAXTON SAYS THEY MAY ALSO DEMAND BUILDING REPAIRS THE HOUSING AUTHORITY HAS LONG NEGLECTED.

Sheryl Braxton (Red Hook Houses resident)"

We’re going to have other meetings with them to see how the progress goes, with what they are saying. They are working with us. There are still more issues to be discussed, and that’s going to be discussed."

RECOVERY IS ALSO UNDERWAY IN HARD HIT STATEN ISLAND, AND THE ROCKAWAYS, WHERE RESIDENTS AND OCCUPY ACTIVISTS ARE HOLDING ACTIONS SATURDAY CALLING FOR “PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE THAT SUPPORTS THE PEOPLE.” ORGANIZERS PLAN A CITY-WIDE CONVERGENCE AT MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG RESIDENCE IN MANHATTAN TO DEMAND THE CITY DO MORE FOR SANDY SURVIVORS. REPORTING FOR THE REAL NEWS AND FSRN, THIS IS JAISAL NOOR, IN NEW YORK



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