The Butler Houses in Claremont Village are the first NYCHA property to receive the full security upgrades associated with the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety.
NYCHA completed work on CCTV cameras, Layered Access security doors and new lighting on the grounds in late January which are the first step to creating a safer environment around public housing.
According to NYCHA, the six 21-story buildings – which include a total of 1,476 units – each received two new entrance doors and one new exit door.
In addition, the six buildings received 30 new cameras in addition to upgrades to the 58 existing cameras.
Finally, 245 new exterior lighting fixtures were installed on the grounds.
Cornell Nolton, president of the Resident Association at the Butler Houses, said the new lights have been a plus for Butler Houses’ older residents.
“The seniors feel more at ease with the lighting,” said Nolton. “They feel comfortable that they won’t be robbed.”
He added that residents used to come in early because they were afraid to be outside in the dark.
Nolton, a 20-year resident of the houses, said before the upgrades the Butler Houses experienced its share of shootings, robberies, domestic violence and drug use.
He adds, “Crime is down a little bit now” since the new security features were installed.
In addition, to those features, Nolton said he has been holding meetings twice a month for residents to voice their concerns and better their living experience.
According to Nolton, during those times representatives from government officials and officers from the local PSA 7 have attended the meetings to help in making the buildings better places to live.
The resident association president said he is already seeing improvements thanks to the meetings as residents are putting their garbage in the incinerator instead of throwing it out their window.
According to Renita Francois, deputy director of MAP,hearing from residents is one of the ways the action plan hopes to improve quality of life in a program called Neighborhood STAT.
Francois said the next step for Butler Houses is to install the Neighborhood STAT program, which will include a “very integral and coordinated” response to the problems facing public housing.
She said agencies such as the NYPD, NYCHA, the NYC Department of Homeless Services and the NYC Department of Sanitation will be able to hear from residents and make sure their needs are met.
“For example if the homeless shelter across the street is not open, that population will trickle over into this development and then we’ll have people sleeping in the hallways or camping out in front of buildings,” said Francois.
She explained in that type of situation the NYPD’s neighborhood coordination officer, a representative from NYC Department of Homeless Services and the property manager will be available to come up with a solution to that problem.
In addition to the security features, said a NYCHA representative, MAP also includes investments in the community such as mentoring and job training for young adults, improved access to public benefits, conflict mediation, grandparent support groups and extended hours at local community centers.