Thanks to $4 million in funding, the entire lighting system in the outdoor areas will be getting upgraded. The project is expected to get underway next spring after work on the exterior of the buildings wraps up. It should take a few months to complete once work begins.
“When this project is complete we will have a safer development, which improves not only the quality of life here for the tenants, but for the entire community,” said Shola Olatoye, the new chair of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).
Ravenswood Houses does have an antiquated lighting system, but rather than replace it piecemeal, NYCHA has decided to replace the entire system. For added security, the housing project is included in the NYPD's VIPER program, so it is under 24-hour video surveillance, but that isn't as effective if the grounds are dark.
“People take advantage of the fact that there are no lights,” said Carol Wilkins, president of the Ravenswood Houses Tenants Association.
Cruz Lopez has lived at Ravenswood Houses for nearly 20 years. She said the lack of lights has been a problem for a couple of years now.
“It's very dangerous,” she said. “When it gets dark, I don't even go outside.”
Christina Serna, director of the Hanac Ravenswood Senior Center, agreed with Cruz.
“With summer coming, we act as a cooling center for many of the residents that don't have air conditioners,” she said. “But a lot of people will just choose to stay home in the heat rather than walk outside in the dark.”
Of the $4 million in funding, $1.5 million was allocated by the City Council.
“These new lights are going to make every playground and pathway safer,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the largest number of constituents in public housing of any City Council member. “This project will enhance security for all residents, families and seniors throughout the development.”