Friday, December 14, 2007

WHY we're doing this?

  • From June 18, 2006 to June 18, 2007 717 calls to law enforcement were made regarding Dunbar Village public housing complex.
  • HUD send out a survey to Dunbar Village residents asking about safety. Of those who responded, the consensus was that there were safety issues and they didn't feel safe.
  • June 18, 2007 a Haitian single mother was gang raped, her 12-year-old son was beaten. Mother and son were forced to perform sex acts with each other. Chemicals were poured in his eyes, in the mother (to gt rid of possible DNA evidence) and the rapists searched for a lighter (presumably to light mom and son on fire).
  • Only four of the rapists have been caught. Anywhere from two to four are still on the loose.
  • State Representative Priscilla Taylor requested HUD get rid of West Palm Beach Housing Authority Commissioner Laurel Robinson and the board. They replied that WPBHA has been and continues to be a top performer.
  • In November 2007, a male attacked his pregnant ex-girlfriend with a metal crowbar. Days later he was apprehended by police in Dunbar Village. It leads one to believe he felt relatively safe from getting caught when he returns to the scene of his crime.
  • At least one child ate paint chips off the wall. WPBHA's fix was to simply paint over it with the same chipping, cheap paint.
  • Residents have called the property manager and received no response. They resorted to calling the mayor's office in hopes City Hall could get the property manager to acknowledge the concerns of the residents. Even then, it still took over two weeks for a response.
  • The residents, led by a strong and resourceful Ms. Grenwood, have decided they are done with this commissioner and her board. The townhall meeting will consist of talking directly to a HUD representative to speak of their concerns and complaints. And also, demand their elected officials represent them.
  • The residents want Laurel Robinson and the entire board removed from their positions.


Miriam said...

This is so good to hear/read. As a matter of fact, I think this should make the news too. Why? Because I suspect many (me formerly included) don't get to hear much about how the residents are outraged and how they are taking responsibility and action.

May God bless their efforts.

clnmike said...

I am very pleased the residents are taking action. Hopefully some one is listening.

Aaron & Alaine said...

Your post notes that one of the resident objectives is to have L. Robinson and the entire board removed. Thats a political objective which may or may not lead to improved conditions and management in Dunbar itself. In many communities, authority boards typically have several members appointed by the local mayor. Assuming you get rid of the current board, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll get new people who are substantively better.

Is it not worthwhile to consider an accountability strategy that puts the spotlight on the boards performance in a way that makes them have to do a better job? For example, if HUD is saying they are a top performing authority, monitor that to see if they are actually meeting the standards and communicate with HUD about where they are not.

I'm not close to the situation, but at first blush, attempting to win a political battle to unseat an entire board seems a very difficult objective with no clear payoff in terms of better quality of life and more security in the actual housing project. I understand wanting them out, but even more so, it seems to me you want them to perform.

There are a lot of complex issues involved in a situation like this, and I think one way to make progress is to develop objectives that are very concrete, obtainable and tie back to a very clear benefit.

Another suggestion I would make is that there might be some value to reaching out to the East Lake Foundation and their experience. They are interested in replication of the kind of transformation they had, and like the Dunbar group, they experienced resistance every step of the way. They could be a resource to the Dunbar residents as there organizing effort picks up steam. I'm familiar with the President of the foundation and I'd be happy to make a connection.

Anonymous said...

Getting rid of Robinson and the board won't be done at that meeting. It sets the tone for what the residents wants. You're right, its not easy, but it doesn't mean it shouldn't happen.

Accountability, after all, does provide for consequences if standards aren't met. So because things wont get better right away once the board leaves doesn't mean they deserve to continue sitting on the board.

I'll give a post later on other things that will be discussed and available to the residents.

Thanks for stopping by.

Professor Tracey said...

Symphony -

I have listed this blog as my first Activism Alert on my new blog. How can people help who may not be able to actually get to Florida?