Brooklynites Take Back Two NYCHA Community Centers

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After years of being shuttered, the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Gowanus Houses Community Center will finally reopen.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) and City Council Members Stephen Levin (D-Northern Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Gowanus), Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brownsville), and Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) announced yesterday that the City’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget will include funding to reopen the center at 420 Baltic Street in the Gowanus/Boerum Hill neighborhood.

The Gowanus Center has been closed for 14 years, save for some senior service programming. The center will provide residents of the Gowanus Houses with cultural, artistic and educational initiatives, as well as youth programming through the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Cornerstone Program. 

This is a major win for a community that has been calling for the reopening for over a decade.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“This day is happening because of your ongoing advocacy,” Johnson told the jubilant crowd of residents gathered in front of the center.“The advocacy of community leaders and tenant association leaders and resident leaders and local organizations and NYCHA residents who fought tirelessly for these community centers and services, and you never ever gave up.”

Johnson and Levin also unveiled capital funding in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget for the expansion and renovation of the NYCHA Wyckoff Gardens Community Center, 272 Wyckoff Street in Gowanus.

“Kids will now have a place to go on evenings and weekends here in Gowanus. You have a lot of residents here, a lot of children, and it’s really important that they have somewhere to go where they have resources. A place where they can hang out, use computers, and do art or music,” said Levin.

City Councilman Stephen Levin
City Council Member Brad Lander

“Finally, for the first time in many years they’ll have an opportunity to do that here instead of having to go all the way over to Wycoff which was never, I think, a great solution. This community has been advocating for this since I came into office almost 10 years ago, it’s been a long time coming,” he added.

The reopening and renovation is possible in large part thanks to the City Council’s allocation of $947,000 in budget funds for the Center and surrounding area, including Levin’s previous allocation of $475,000 for the renovation project through Participatory Budgeting in 2014.

Additionally, the de Blasio administration made a commitment of $3.5 million through NYCHA funding for the rehabilitation of the site.   

The Wyckoff Gardens Community Center is being renovated through $2.5 million in Council funding for FY20, which is in addition to $2.4 million previously allocated to the Center and surrounding area.

“The expansion of the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center and the renovation and permanent reopening of the Gowanus Community Center will bring new opportunities for young people to socialize, learn and gain skills, and bring back long-overdue services that the community deserves,” said Lander.

“I’m also proud to say that, thanks to the Speaker’s office, we are able to allocate $50,000 for programming, tutoring, and recreational activities for residents during the time that it will take to reopen the Gowanus Community Center so that the community can start accessing these services right away,” he added.

Currently, the Wyckoff Gardens Houses Community Center offers after-school youth programming and senior services. Once the expansion and renovations are completed, the space will have a new kitchen and classrooms for further skills and job training.

Upon completion, community members, advocates, NYCHA and Council Member Levin’s office will determine what services will be provided at the site.

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