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Stomping out crews in NYCHA

Bronx Times

Last month several younger teens viciously stomped on a 14-year-old as he walked out of his public housing building on Yates Avenue. He’s now scared to come outside.

Elderly residents are often the target of a group of 13-to-14-year-old kids heckling them as they enter and leave their buildings. Shots can be heard on a regular basis, forcing tenants to duck for cover.

That’s been life at the Eastchester Gardens housing project in Allerton - up until now.

But police and the NYC Housing Authority are about to make a major move to change all that by evicting the families of bad apple tenants.

Officials from NYCHA and Capt. Lorenzo “Andy” Johnson, commanding officer of the 49th Precinct - and a former Housing Police officer himself - met two weeks ago to plan on targeting menacing crews of underage teens terrorizing the sprawling, 15-building complex.

“The meeting was quite productive and hopefully just the first step,” said Johnson.

The housing agency plans to stem the violence by re-enforcing a clause in lease agreements that target tenants legally responsible for these bad apples.

Under the terms, the agency can start eviction proceedings “if a tenant or family member commits a crime, causes damage to people or other property.”

The enforcement has been on the books for quite sometime, with 30-50 evictions each year.

Keith Ramsey, head of the Eastchester tenants association, believes there is now greater urgency to root troublemaking kids out of the buildings, given the growing size of these crews, which can often run to several dozen members congregating in front of buildings.

“When groups like that form, it creates a mob mentality,” said Ramsey, who said he’s grown exhausted by the volatile nature of the complex, where families often look over their shoulders.

“We can’t come out and enjoy ourselves because of all of this,” said one woman, a 15-year tenant who asked her name not be used for fear of reprisals from crews.

She said she has had to duck to the floor with her Downs syndrome son in her apartment on Bouck Ave., from hearing gunshots outside the building.

“The shooting here is ridiculous!” she said, supporting the eviction policy. “Something got to be done.”

Some fear getting tenants to join combating the troublemakers is a lost cause.

“Nobody wants to help,” said Gertrude Stewart, a 40-year tenant and resident watch supervisor monitoring activity. “Meanwhile some kids are running from bullets.”

Tenants association head Ramsey is personally conducting outreach, advising tenants about the new eviction enforcement effort.

“If you tell them you’re going to get put out, some of them wake up,” said Ramsey, offering help to single parents who’ve lost control of their sons or daughters.

“I still have faith that if we reach some of these parents,” said Ramsey. “We’ll save some of them.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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