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Red Hook Residents Demand Immediate Rent Credit at NYCHA Rally

By Alan Neuhauser | November 27, 2012 5:52pm

LOWER MANHATTAN — Red Hook Houses residents rallied outside the New York City Housing Authority Tuesday morning, demanding more assistance for tenants who went as long as three weeks without electricity, heat or hot water in Brooklyn's largest public housing project after Hurricane Sandy.

Close to two-dozen Red Hook Houses residents and their advocates, including members of Occupy Sandy, showed up for the 9 a.m. protest outside NYCHA headquarters in Lower Manhattan.

"We're out here today to make sure they know that we're still fighting for what we need," said Sheryl Braxton, a longtime Red Hook Houses resident who helped organize the rally.

"I really think that we were neglected."

Braxton was one of four Red Hook Houses residents who met with NYCHA official Brian Hanon at a hastily called meeting in Red Hook on Monday morning. The tenants, joined by neighborhood community activists, gave Hanon a list of demands calling for a two-month rent credit effective Dec. 1, mold abatement, a temporary moratorium on evictions and air- and water-quality testing.

"We're pushing…to make sure all our residents are home safely," Braxton said.

NYCHA is offering a rent credit to public housing residents for the days they were without essential services like electricity and heat, but it will not take effect until January, which Red Hook Houses residents say is too late.

Hanon briefly met again with Braxton and organizers from the Occupy Sandy movement Tuesday morning, but he left before speaking with reporters.

NYCHA's press office declined to comment on the gathering outside its office or Monday's sit-down with residents.

The Monday meeting, attendees said, was called as late as Sunday night — an alleged attempt to head off the rally planned for the following morning.

"We planned a rally and NYCHA came to the table," Red Hook resident and longtime activist Reg Flowers said at Tuesday's protest. "What you're hearing today is a very different tone than what we had planned."

Instead of voicing anger and frustration — emotions residents shared at a series of community-wide meetings over the past two weeks — the group at Tuesday's rally tried to strike a more positive tone. Residents focused on what they said needs to be accomplished in the Red Hook Houses.

"We've all been working together in a coalition to address the Sandy recovery," Flowers said. "There's nothing more to say until we hear back from NYCHA."