State Assemblymember Latoya Joyner announced Friday that she secured $8.5 million in state capital funding for a new workforce development center at the Sedgwick Houses, a number the New York City Housing Authority says is unprecedented.
Sedgwick Houses is a seven-building New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) complex in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. The training center will replace a childcare center at the development that has been shuttered for more than a decade, a NYCHA spokesperson told the Bronx Times.
The effort is the largest single allocation from a state legislator that the housing authority has received, the NYCHA spokesperson told the Bronx Times. The capital funding, which was secured through the state Assembly, will be allotted over three years, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie spokesperson Raven Brown told the Bronx Times.
There is no timeline for the next steps or when the project will be complete, Joyner’s Chief of Staff Jamie Gilkey told the Bronx Times.
“For many years one of the goals of public housing has been to ensure that residents are self-sufficient,” Joyner said. “But all the families here at Sedgwick and in the surrounding community know that self-sufficiency is not enough. Instead – we need to ensure that each resident has access to the tools needed for success – not just to get by. To earn wages that will allow them to put money in the bank and plan for their future – not just to struggle with day-to-day expenses.”
Joyner was inspired by a visit to the Albany Housing Authority, where she saw community space being used for health care training, the NYCHA spokesperson told the Bronx Times.
Most of the funding ($6.3 million) will go toward renovating the old childcare center, and the rest will go toward a roof renovation, according to the NYCHA spokesperson.
The first phase of the renovation work has a pricetag of $3.2 million, Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) spokesperson Jeffrey Gordon told the Bronx Times. DASNY is overseeing the funding for the project, and Joyner’s office has been working with the agency on the initiative for months, according to Gilkey.
Renaissance Technical Institute (RTI) is expected to provide the training once the site is operating, Gilkey said.
The Harlem-based nonprofit offers free vocational training for underserved communities, according to the organization’s website. RTI offers training to people 17 and older in a wide range of subjects, from basic computer skills and culinary classes to carpentry and plumbing. Select courses are offered both in English and Spanish.
The Sedgwick Houses program will equip adults with skills and trades to compete in the job market, Joyner said. This is particularly important for young adults of color who are raising a family but don’t have the income necessary to do so comfortably, according to a memo from her office.
Joyner’s team sees the center as a way to help “break the cycle of crime, gang involvement and youth incarceration and reduce the rate of high school dropouts and unemployment,” according to the memo.
Along with the economic opportunities the center can provide, the program will encourage environmental sustainability through its employer partnerships, according to Joyner’s office.
The center, which is in the planning stages, will offer training not just to Sedgwick Houses residents but also to the local community, according to the NYCHA spokesperson.
Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes