Each day, unarmed security guards post at NYCHA senior buildings for eight hour shifts. But this service is poised to evaporate by June 30, a move the authority says will save $7 million. 

Adi Talwar

March 19, 2024: Lobby of NYCHA’s Bronx River Addition located at 1350-1352 manor Avenue in the Bronx.

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One of the main distinctions of senior-designated buildings within the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is an extra layer of safety measures.

While most NYCHA campuses are equipped with security cameras, exterior lighting, or both, its 55 senior buildings—a subset of the authority’s 2,411-building portfolio—have an unarmed security guard posted at the entrance for eight hours a day.

But the $7 million-per-year service, which provides NYCHA residents ages 62 and older with more peace of mind, will come to an end on June 30 as part of a broader cost-cutting effort, NYCHA confirmed. The authority says it is facing a $35 million deficit in its 2024 operating budget. 

NYCHA has pointed to a drop in rent collection as a significant contributor to its budget woes, with about 70,000 households owing $482 million in back rent as of Feb. 29. Rent payments make up one third of its operational budget, and the year ending in March did not see monthly rent collection exceed 69 percent

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In an April 25 public letter to NYCHA, Brooklyn Councilmember Chris Banks, chair of the Committee on Public Housing, expressed “extreme” disappointment in the planned cut to a service he said should be prioritized.

“Our seniors represent one of our City’s most vulnerable stakeholder groups,” Banks wrote. “While I understand NYCHA’s difficult budget position, their budgets should not be balanced on the backs of so many who have already given so much, and are now expressing fears of what these cuts may mean for them.”

The City Council held an oversight hearing in December focused specifically on safety issues and NYCHA’s seniors, where tenants testified about issues like broken locks and security cameras. 

Ana Almanzar, a tenant at the Bronx River Addition Houses in the Soundview section of the Bronx, told City Limits last month that her building recently got a new security guard. This was a relief, as she’d noticed people sleeping in the lobby and stairwell, apparently without authorization. 

The prospect of losing that guard so soon is concerning. “What do you mean they are going to remove them?” she told City Limits in Spanish this week, after a reporter informed her of the planned cut. “What are we going to do now, then?”

Bronx River Addition residents recently voted to opt into the Public Housing Preservation Trust, a new public entity that can issue bonds to fund repairs. But NYCHA still supports the complex financially pending an official transfer, a spokesperson confirmed. 

NYCHA did not provide City Limits with a written statement, but said by email that most of the affected buildings have security cameras, and that it will continue to coordinate with the NYPD to respond to crime and safety concerns.

Additional reporting by Daniel Parra. 

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