Installation of safety lighting part of citywide plan to reduce violence at targeted NYCHA developments. On July 13, 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Housing Authority announced the completed installation of 504 new lights to improve public safety at Boulevard Houses in East New York Brooklyn. The installation is part of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP) which was initiated in 2014.
MAP is a comprehensive strategy to reduce violence and increase neighborhood safety at the 15 NYCHA development sites that accounted for 20 percent of all violent crime in public housing in 2014. Led by Executive Director Amy Sananman, MAP is operated under the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice with coordination of the NYPD, NYCHA, and other city services and public housing tenants.
Since its inception in 2014, New York City saw a 6.9 percent decrease in violent crime, while violent crime in the 15 MAP developments dropped by 11.2 percent. For the second year in a row, crime is down at NYCHA’s MAP developments compared to 2014, with violent crime down 7 percent and shootings down 17 percent. Additionally, in March, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice announced a comprehensive study in which 40 public housing developments received 400 exterior lights in an effort to evaluate the effect of light on crime.
Since 2014, NYCHA has spent more than $64.6 million installing and upgrading safety cameras (CCTV), and has also greatly increased the number of Layered Access Control (LAC) doors. So far this year, NYCHA has completed lighting installations at three MAP sites, including permanent lighting installation at the Polo Grounds Towers in Harlem, and at the Bushwick Houses in Brooklyn, which included 646 new light fixtures.
To date, $140 million has been allocated for security enhancements at MAP sites, with funding from the City Council and Speaker, the Mayor’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. In 2016, NYCHA expects to complete lighting installations at 6 MAP sites, including Butler, St. Nicholas, Van Dyke I and Van Dyke II, Castle Hill, Stapleton, and Ingersoll; and plans to begin installing lighting in 3 more sites at an estimated cost of $20.8 million. The new lighting installation is expected to be completed at 13 of the 15 MAP sites by the end of 2017. Most of the sites are estimated to be substantially completed by the end of 2018.
“We are continuing to deliver on our promise to public housing residents to make their communities safer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This lighting installation – which brings 504 new lights to Brooklyn’s Boulevard Houses – follows the installation of 305 new safety lights at Bushwick Houses. Exterior safety lighting is one vital tool in the larger effort to decrease violence in public housing.”
“Creating safer, cleaner and more connected communities means brightening our developments to ensure residents feel secure in their neighborhoods,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “Through this collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the NYPD, NYCHA is bringing safety enhancements to developments across the city. Here at Boulevard, this state-of-the-art lighting will improve quality of life for residents, strengthening the community.”
“MAP’s unique approach to public safety extends far beyond traditional law enforcement, because we know that bright, vibrant spaces and access to resources allow communities to thrive,” said Amy Sananman, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. “The installation of 504 new lighting fixtures puts Boulevard Houses on pace to continue the downward trend in violent crime across NYCHA’s MAP developments and citywide.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “After the stabbing of a six-year-old and a seven-year-old in a poorly-lighted elevator at Boulevard Houses in 2014, I called on NYCHA to help eliminate the darkness. In my 22 years with the NYPD, I remember the difficulty of patrolling areas where dark shadows allowed criminals to conceal their activities and families were afraid to walk at night. Improved exterior lighting at Boulevard Houses in East New York will dramatically improve public safety for police officers and community residents, preventing many crimes from ever occurring.”
Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety: Boulevard Houses (July 2016)
By: Brian Kaszuba (Brian is the CityLand Editor and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2004).