Once again, community centers at public housing are on the chopping block—a little-noticed issue this budget season, and some officials are hoping to change that. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
The community center at Lafayette Gardens is one of 57 the city's Housing Authority is set to shutter thanks to budget cuts.
"The community center tends to be the focal point or the meeting place of the development," says Tyree Stanback, the head of the tenants association at Lafayette Gardens.
After school programs, senior programs—a safe haven, or so say residents and parents.
"They take this away, where are the kids going to go?" says one resident.
"A lot of dangerous things might happen, cause the community center keeps all the kids and teens active," another says.
"Yeah, NYCHA can't. No... I need NYCHA. Without them, I don't know. I have to work. I can't stay home, you know what I mean?" says a third resident.
The story of budget slashes to the Housing Authority's community centers is a familiar one to some city officials.
"The impression is that the budget dance is over. It's mostly over. It's less theatrical than in years past but those 57 centers are in danger of closing," says City Council member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.
Housing authority officials say it would take about $17 million to stave off the closure. They also say they recognize the "unique importance" of these centers to thousands of New Yorkers.
The cuts come as the housing authority is already taking heat for recent spikes in crime at developments. Here in the Bronx or in Brooklyn, officials and residents say its these centers that too are part of the solution.
"It's a gathering place for young people and children to come and stay out of trouble. So normally, if they were on the street doing something mischievous, they can come in the center and watch a game," says Stanback.
"And so to close youth services at a time of rising crime is a terrible mistake," Torres says.
Officials at the housing authority and the City Council say they are currently negotiating to try to come up with a long-term solution to save these community centers.
They must come up with a solution by the end of the month when the budget is due.