Schumer requests federal funds to expand security at Boulevard Houses

Khorri Atkinson | 8/14/2014, 5:36 p.m.

The tragic stabbing death of Prince Joshua Avitto, 6, and the stabbing of his friend, Mikayla Capers, 7, last June at the New York City Housing Authority’s Boulevard Houses in East New York, Brooklyn, underscore the reason why protection and federal intervention are needed at the apartment complex.

This argument was used by Sen. Charles Schumer last Thursday, when he urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to approve $250,000 in federal funding for NYCHA to have more resources to monitor the property and address safety and security needs at the housing complex. Boulevard Houses comprise 18 buildings that contain 1,423 units, with nearly 3,000 residents. In his request, Schumer said funds will specifically be used to install more cameras and set up a security operations center.

“Half of the eighteen buildings at the Boulevard Houses are without security cameras, and following the tragic stabbing of two young children at this site, it’s clear that additional security measures are needed to keep residents safe,” said Schumer in a statement released by his office. “I am urging HUD to provide federal funding that can supplement the city’s laudable efforts to expand the security camera system at Boulevard Houses. A better camera security system will help keep residents safe and improve law enforcement’s ability to track down and arrest wrong-doers.”

If approved, the funding will be available through HUD’s Emergency Safety and Security Grants program, which Schumer said would be a critical supplement to the work that the city has been doing to improve safety at the site. Funds from HUD’s Emergency Safety and Security Grants program are awarded to public housing authorities to address emergency, safety and security needs, including the funding of measures to combat crime and drug activities at the public housing properties they operate.

The tragic stabbings have prompted Mayor de Blasio and NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye to install security cameras at Boulevard Houses and five other developments around the city. In addition to this major overhaul, de Blasio announced a $210 million comprehensive citywide spending plan that will help to reduce violent crime and expand social services, educational programs and security measures.

“We are making investments in our public housing— investments that should have been made long ago,” said de Blasio at the time of his announcement in early July. “We believe that the challenges facing public housing need to be addressed aggressively. They have to be addressed now, and all of this is the kind of investment that will have real and immediate impact.”

Both children were stabbed by Daniel St. Hubert, an ex-convict who has mental problems. St. Hubert, who is still in police custody, has been indicted on second-degree murder and attempted murder charges. Authorities are also trying to connect him to the stabbing death of Tanaya Grant-Copeland, 18, also from the East New York community, whose body was found with multiple stab wounds by a passerby, the same weekend the two children where attacked.