As police continue to investigate a shooting 10 days ago that left one construction worker dead and another wounded, word on the street continues that the incident was related to some form of organized crime involving the placement of low-income residents on New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) construction job sites.
The preliminary police investigation determined that the 11:42 a.m. shooting on Feb. 4 involved two males in a dispute in front of 2749 West 33 Street, which is an address in NYCHA’s Gravesend Houses. One of the males fired several shots at the other and fled the scene on foot southbound on West 33 Street.
Dorothy Dixon, 53, of 1371 St. Marks in Crown Heights was taken to Coney Island Hospital with a gunshot wound to her torso where she later was pronounced dead. The second worker, a 47-year-old male, suffered a gunshot wound to his left leg and was taken to Lutheran Hospital in serious but stable condition.
The shooting occurred, according to several sources, because of a dispute about construction jobs. Sources say that an organization or organizations known as “The Coalition,” have been placing residents from other neighborhoods including Crown heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville on the jobs. This has resulted in bitterness from local Coney Island low-income residents, who feel they should get the jobs.
As reported last year by KCP, there are allegations of a possible kickback scheme relating to local low-income residents getting NYCHA jobs to repair Superstorm Sandy damage at prevailing construction wages for a weekly “donation.”
The ongoing KCP investigation has found that the alleged kickback scheme dates back in part from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) handing $3 billion to NYCHA in March 2015 to fix and replace boilers, heating systems and other infrastructure breakage due to Superstorm Sandy.
A major stipulation of this funding is HUD’s Section 3 mandate that requires employment and other economic opportunities generated by federal assistance to public housing authorities to be directed, whenever possible, to public housing residents and other low and very low-income residents.
To this date, some seven years after Sandy, storm-related reconstruction work at NYCHA buildings is still not completed despite the city giving out millions of dollars worth of contracts. For example, Sandy-related construction work contracts to the Gravesend Houses either combined with other developments or solely for Gravesend has been more than $183 million, according to city figures.
Some sources say the Coalition includes NYCHA tenant association presidents, who use their leadership role to broker jobs between public housing tenants and construction firms. Other sources indicate there are independent coalition members working directly with contractors and subcontractors.
But Gravesend Tenants Association President Deborah Carter adamantly defended both herself and other TA Presidents. She also disputes the police report, contending that the shooting did not happen at in front of the Gravesend Houses but at another private construction site across the street.
“That shooting did not happen at my development. She [Dixon] was working across the street, not at my development,” said Carter. “There are problems in other developments but I am not having it here. I feel sorry for this young lady and her family. The contractors in the Gravesend Houses are doing a wonderful job. They are getting paid and doing an excellent job.”
Carter note that the issue of jobs for local NYCHA residents in Coney Island has been going on for some time, but reiterated again not at her development. “This is a sign of the times. Things need to be right and respectable. They need to look into these jobs of who should be working and who should not be working, and now somebody is dead.”
Derick Scott, director of Operation H.O.O.D. (Helping Our Own Develop), a Coney Island Cure Violence Initiative, said the problem stems from scattered few jobs, and the ones getting hired on construction sites through the coalition are from other neighborhoods and not Coney Island.
“That’s what the gentleman was talking about when he pulled the trigger. It is hurtful when people are fighting because they are in your living room, but they can’t even get a plate to eat,” said Scott. “In a sense both [the shooter and those shot] are victims. This is sad when people have to die and be hospitalized for people to be heard.”
Another source said the entire situation between contractors getting millions of taxpayer dollars and several schemes related to low-income residents getting jobs on NYCHA sites has been pushed under the rug. With the de Blasio administration, the NYPD, and city and state prosecutors seemingly looking the other way, a federal investigation is needed, said the source.
“People think this is a game. and then people die. They want to ignore the fact that this is happening. They don’t want nobody to know. They think it’s black people and I don’t think they care,” said the source.