Monique Johnson has spent 43 years, almost her entire life, living at the Throgs Neck Houses and is now on her second run as the president of its Resident Council.
She’s seen the ups and downs of both the development and her own life.
She views her work at the Throgs Neck Houses as part of God’s plan for her.
She decided to commit her life to helping her community when she hit rock-bottom spiritually during and after serving a prison sentence for drugs from 1989 to 1991.
“My attitude for so long was that I took out of my community, and now it was time to give back,” Johnson said of her first election in 1992.
It was a post she held for about eight years. She then worked with troubled youth while earning a bachelors degree from the College of New Rochelle in 2007.
After a brief stint at a new job, she decided to dedicate her life once again to working full-time to help 5,000 fellow community members.
She helps residents of the 724 apartments: dealing with the Housing Authority and the NYPD, finding ways to positively influence youth, and helping residents realize there are jobs and opportunities.
She recalled what the Throgs Neck Houses were like when she was growing up, and knows they can do better.
Years ago there was also more Housing Authority staff that helped build community, she said.
“The main issue here is a shortage of staff, and because of this, work that should be done does not get done in a timely fashion,” said Johnson. “Because this is a city agency … the upkeep of this project is not a priority until attention is brought by the media and NYCHA’s hand is forced.”
As far as success in life and in helping others, Johnson said “it is all about relationships,” that help build a community by connecting people.
“Everyone has an assignment from God that you have to complete based on your experiences,” said Johnson. “This is my assignment. I made it out of the grips, and my job is to reach back, take someone else’s hand, and get them back.”