Throggs Neck Houses residents team up to clean up development

(l-r) Edwin Ortiz, Minerva Guzman, Margarita Rodriguez and Sam Ortiz helped with gardening and cleanup outisde 2765 Sampson Avenue.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Residents at the Throggs Neck Houses got their hands dirty for a good cause as the housing development hosted a spring cleanup day.

About 30 volunteer residents teamed up to perform gardening and other tasks to beautify the sprawling New York City Housing Authority Development recently.

They were aided in their efforts by support from Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Community Board 10.

The clean up on Friday, April 10, coordinated with the Throggs Neck Houses Resident Council, included help from youth in Police Service Area 8 Explorers.

The beautification featured breakfast and a barbecue lunch for the volunteers, which included a visit from Senator Klein and Kenneth Kearns, CB 10 district manager.

“By working together in the spirit of community to clean up the Throggs Neck Houses, we are providing local residents with a cleaner, greener place to call home,” said Klein, adding that public housing has fallen into a state of neglect.

Klein said in remarks that in the state budget just finalized, $100 million in funding for NYCHA has been budgeted, the largest investment in public housing in 15 years.

Juan Santiago, a NYCHA deputy director of public engagement, said that events like the cleanup help the residents take ‘ownership’ of the development they live in.

“Encouraging residents to get involved in these communities encourages them to take pride and ownership,” he said, adding that there are gardening organizations for the developments if residents would like to make this an ongoing effort.

Outside 2765 Sampson Avenue, where a group of locals were working on the cleanup, there was talk of planting flowers that would complement an existing vegetable garden near the building.

Nelson Vega, who was volunteering and helped spearhead the vegetable garden, said the activities like the cleanup and the gardening bring people in his building together.

“It really brought everyone in this building together,” he said of the gardening in general.

Monique Johnson, the resident council president, said the cleanup brings unity to the community, and that it pursued the idea after a staffer of Klein’s suggested it.

“It is important to us to come together in a joint effort to improve the quality-of-life for our residents,” said Johnson. “We cannot expect anyone else to do more for us than we do for ourselves.”

The resident’s council worked with CB 10, which was able to arrange for the Department of Sanitation to donate gloves, garbage bags, brooms, rakes, shovels and a selection cleaning supplies for the event.

“The really great thing, historically, about NYCHA is that it is all about the people in the developments,” said Kearns, noting that NYCHA residents throughout the city volunteer in activities like tenant patrols to make their communities safer.

Besides gardening, the volunteers removed debris and raked leaves from the grounds, said Johnson.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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