Friday, October 5, 2007

Barred From Public Housing, Even to See Family - New York Times

Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
Hector Monsegur, 40, was barred from visiting his mother, Irma, 65, at the
Jacob Riis Houses after his drug conviction. “It’s one strike and they give me life,” he says.
Barred From Public Housing, Even to See Family - New York Times by Manny Fernandez, October 1, 2007, The New York Times

Nobody covers public housing quite like The Journal, the New York City Housing Authority’s monthly tabloid newspaper, delivered to 178,000 apartments.Irma Monsegur looking at old photographs of her children.

There are colorful photographs and cheerful stories about the agency’s youth chorus, community center ribbon-cuttings and teenage tenants headed to college.

But there is one widely read feature that residents hope they never appear in: the Not Wanted List.

It names former residents who are “permanently excluded” from Housing Authority buildings — and barred from even an afternoon’s visit to a family member. The Not Wanted are barred for a wide variety of reasons, some of them for criminal arrests and others for being nuisances.

In The Journal’s September issue, Peter Kilpatrick from Hammel Houses in Queens — “formerly associated with the second floor,” the newspaper noted — is first on the list. Next is Tyrone Taylor, “formerly associated” with the fourth floor of Lincoln Houses in Manhattan, followed by more than a dozen others.

Anyone who sees a barred person on the premises is urged to contact the complex management or Housing Authority investigators. Last year, 864 men and women were permanently excluded from Housing Authority properties, and this year, the number is at 772.

Public housing authorities around the country use similar policies, including the agencies in Philadelphia and Portland, Ore. In Chicago, exclusion from public housing is called an “order to bar.”

The practice, public housing advocates and some tenants said, splinters families, preventing the barred from seeing their parents, siblings or grandparents. And in the close-knit world of public housing buildings, they said, the public list is a kind of scarlet letter for struggling families.

“It’s degrading not only for the people on that list but for the family members of those people,” said Damaris Reyes, a resident of Baruch Houses in Manhattan and the executive director of Good Old Lower East Side, a community and tenants’ rights group. “You’re trying to keep your business private, and now the whole neighborhood knows that your son or daughter was arrested.”

Read full story at