New Report Highlights Connections Between Policing and Public Housing

Concluding: Defund the NYPD and Fund NYCHA Now

QUEENS, NY: Today and long-standing public housing residents are among those that are hyper-policed – in our city and across our country. This has real consequences for the health and well-being of residents and society at large. A new report released by the Justice For All Coalition today highlights what this means for public housing communities in western Queens – home of Queensbridge, the largest remaining public housing development in the US.

This inquiry grew from the rallying cries by activists last summer to #DefundNYPD and “defund police” more generally, which was so loud that it became a serious policy question in cities across the country during budget negotiations, and now is a decisive question during our city elections this year. 

Through our work as the Justice For All Coalition, we learned that some residents were wary of this movement, worried that it could put themselves, their families, and their neighbors at greater risk, so we undertook a closer examination of the relationship between policing and the experiences of residents living in public housing. This report summarizes what we learned through that inquiry and concludes that police are not the answer to the problems plaguing public housing residents, but instead are a key part of the problem, and the only fair and just response is to invest public money in alternative, community-based models of safety, security, and well-being.

The seven sections of the short report can be described in three parts. The first part sets the scene by providing a bird’s eye view of how our public money is spent and summarizes research on policing and public housing. The second part provides a snapshot of what policing looks like in real-time in western Queens, taking care to highlight how hyper-policing contributes to and compounds other forms of oppression like deteriorating living conditions and job market discrimination. The final section asks, “where do we go from here”, and beyond summarizing the need to move away from policing, it also highlights existing alternatives already at play in public housing (mostly in western Queens as well).  

We share this report humbly, as another empirical case study for understanding why the call to Defund the NYPD is so critical and to highlight some specific alternative future directions. We know that change is not easy, and can be unnerving, and that the knee-jerk reaction is so often to question the very possibility of change, but in this case, change is critical – lives are literally on the line, and moreover, change is already underway.

See full report: http://nycharising.info/education/policing-nycha/

The Justice For All Coalition is a group of neighbors in western Queens who have been organizing and educating themselves and their neighbors since 2016, and fighting for just development and public investment in public housing. Their roots, base, and leadership are in the local public housing developments of Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria, and Woodside Houses.

Kristen Hackett is an executive committee member of the Justice For All Coalition and the researcher and author of the report. She is also a doctoral candidate at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

Categories: Education

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