My name is Tita Concepcion, I am a member of Our Lady of Presentation – Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, and a long-time resident of the Breukelen Houses in Canarsie.
This summer I took action at City Hall and confronted NYCHA managers and this mayor for allowing my daughter to be assaulted.
For years we’ve had problems in our buildings: a lack of heat & hot water, mold, dirty elevators and local managers who treat us with total disrespect. But the turning moment for me started with men lurking in our lobby because the front door lock was broken. We’d call and call but it would stay broken.
Then one day my daughter was sexually assaulted. I was outraged, and decided that enough was enough. I invited my neighbors over to my house to see if they were tired of being treated like trash by this administration. We knocked on doors and we got organized.
One of my neighbors in the building next door had so many rats that she was afraid to go out at night. Rats! We had to host meetings during the day because the rats would take over the courtyard at night.
At City Hall, I testified, rallied and confronted NYCHA. I challenged this mayor’s indifference to the health and safety of half a million black and Latino New Yorkers like me. We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens.
We take action to get a reaction, and the very next day my door was fixed. I got the mayor to do his job and make it safe for my daughter and me again. But I was just getting started.
Later I organized more than 70 parishioners and neighbors to host a press conference with Councilwoman Inez Barron. We got more attention and more of a reaction. Soon they were getting rid of the rats and cleaning out people’s mold.
As Fr. Skelly mentioned, we helped win $2.2 billion for repairs. There are hundreds of thousands of us that still need repairs. We’re going to need more money, real leadership and strong accountability.
After 5 years, I don’t trust this mayor to do it on his own. That’s why all of you and I will keep taking action.