Question Authority Episode 5: Looking Forward

Date: October 15, 2019
A sign hung at Ocean Bay. (Photo: Liam McBain)
A sign hung at Ocean Bay. (Photo: Liam McBain)

Publication: NBC4 New York

Question Authority is a 6-part podcast about New York’s public housing crisis. In Episode 5, NYCHA tries a new public/private partnership model for improving its housing condition: RAD. New York’s first RAD development is seeing results. But are RAD residents more at risk of eviction? Listen on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher or listen below.

ON SUNNY DAYS, kids ride scooters and run around on brand new playgrounds at the Ocean Bay Apartments. The massive development in The Rockaways is right on the water, so you can hear the sea birds and feel a breeze coming off the ocean. The lawns are well-kept. The shrubs are manicured. The 24 brick buildings sit in neat rows. You’d never guess that Ocean Bay used to be a NYCHA development.

“It’s like night and day,” said Visol Smith, President of Ocean Bay’s tenants association. He’s big in the community, people say. He has lived there for over 35 years. “The development looks beautiful, the elevators are clean, you know, the people are coming together,” he said.

He takes the interview in what he calls the “hospitality room.” It is a clean, white area with a kitchenette, a giant flat screen, and an AC. There is a computer and recreation room next door.

“[The residents] like the way it look, you know,” Smith said. “It don’t even look like Sandy even came through here.”

Superstorm Sandy hit Ocean Bay hard. It was still run by NYCHA then, in 2012. Ocean Bay was built in the 60s and was already deteriorating before Sandy hit, but the superstorm really gave the development a walloping. The first floors got flooded, the electrical system was knocked out, and the heating was destroyed, too. “It looked like a warzone was here,” Smith said….

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