“So many of the civic successes heralded by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg,” Ginia Bellafonte wrote in The New York Times back in 2012, “might have happened in Lithuania for all the effect they have had (or could have) on the lives of people in Brownsville,” which Ms. Bellafonte then goes on to helpfully identify as a neighborhood in northeastern Brooklyn.
We’re not sure if gentrification counts as a “civic success,” and we aren’t aware of any pasty-faced, heritage flannel-wearing hipsters wandering around Pitkin Avenue, the neighborhood’s main drag, yet. But if trends in nearby neighborhoods are any indication, it won’t be long before Brownsville—a byword for blight, home to the largest concentration of public housing towers in the city and to this day a place that some mail carriers fear to tread—is selling something artisanal besides stamp bags.
By the time Anne Pierre and her sons arrived at 199 Amboy Street, it was after midnight. The heat of the unusually warm April day had all but drained away, but there was a mellowness to the air, a contrast to the sharp, cold spring nights that had come before. From the outside, the red-brick building looked clean and well-maintained, though the darkness made it difficult to tell for sure. In Ms. Pierre’s experience, the exteriors of homeless shelters were poor predictors of conditions inside.
Late though it was, the family’s arrival at the Brownsville shelter marked the somewhat triumphant culmination of a bureaucratic odyssey that had started two days earlier, when Ms. Pierre had reapplied for shelter at the family intake center in the Bronx. It was only somewhat triumphant in that 199 Amboy was just a 10-day placement, the latest in a string of temporary housing assignments that had become the norm since the family lost its eligibility for shelter in February. But as it turned out, 199 Amboy was the nicest place Ms. Pierre and the two boys stayed since entering the shelter system in June 2012.
As 9-year-old Jordan described their arrival, “When we saw it, we was shocked. It was nice. It was decent.”
Decent is the kind of good-enough existence that has seemed to elude the family for the last 10 months. But it felt potentially within reach again when they fell asleep that night at a little after 1 a.m., relieved if still wary, with the alarm set for 6 a.m.—the preparations necessary for the school day ahead as uncompromising as the dawn.
Like many other families who have recently swelled the ranks of the city’s homeless population, routine has taken on an almost talismanic significance for Ms. Pierre and her boys. They live an approximation of a life that involved, until recently, an apartment of their own—a two-bedroom on Legion Street rented for four years with the help of a Section 8 voucher. Ms. Pierre paid $350 of the $1,100 rent until a recurrent mold problem disqualified the apartment.
East New York, Brooklyn: amidst the slightly disintegrating buildings and graffiti-filled walls sits NY’s 75th precinct—the precinct that is credited with the most stop-and-frisks of 2011.
While some inhabitants of the area stress the common concerns that police are exercising racial discrimination and brutality in their stop-and-frisk operations, there seems to be more to the story. To often, officers have no real connection to the communities they cover, The Brooklyn Bureau reports. They seem not to care, and the 7-5 is a perfect illustration of that.
The new Details features a nutty interview with Mike Tyson, wherein he peddles a new serene vegan shtick (“meat’s become a poison for me now”), which, depending on your thoughts about his past, may be a bit hard to swallow.
Tyson says there was no rage or terror in the ring: “If Read More
Lisa Kenner, a Democratic district leader, community activist and David Yassky supporter, may not be the best-known surrogate involbved in the 11th Congressional District race. But she’s turning out to be one of the most outspoken.
Saturday afternoon at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Brownsville, Kenner hosted a debate for the candidates in the 11th Read More
Rumors are floating about that Tracy Boyland has started to petition in order to challenge Velmanette Montgomery for her Brooklyn-based senate seat. When reached by phone just now, Boyland would only say that she can’t comfirm anything until Wednesday. Which, maybe, says it all.
Boyland challenged Major Owens for his congressional seat Read More
Last Monday, Jan. 30, marked the 124th birthday of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Sixty years after his death, nearly everyone has forgotten how close we came to never having him as a President.
In 1928, I was a 15-year-old political junkie living in Bensonhurst. The Democrats nominated New York Governor Al Smith for the Presidency, the Read More