Perhaps the most glaring issue for Bolden was the recreational outdoor area, or rather lack thereof. A basketball court with worn asphalt and a tiny playground are both long overdue for an upgrade.
One of Bolden’s largest complaints is the lack of resources for the youth of Brownsville. The only one offered in the community is an after-school program. He wants vocational and GED classes.
He recalled a time when some young residents asked Bolden how he became an elevator engineer. When he replied that he got an education in order to get the job, they expressed disappointment that there is a lack of opportunities for them.
“We need a drastic change,” Bolden said.
The Marcus Garvey Houses were thrown into the national spotlight in July this year after videos of teens throwing water on NYPD officers went viral.
Aside from that incident, Bolden says he has seen the community deal with its fair share of violence.
In August, a young man was murdered in the center of the complex while visiting his family. Candles were still up with messages of goodbye on the walls.
“We can’t continue to define the residents by candles and murals,” Adams empathized.
Bolden told Adams that when he asked the new York City Housing Authority for improvements, the response he heard time and time again was insufficient funding.
Adams was shown the community center, which is drab with just a few tables and chairs. Bolden told him that with the right renovation, the area could be turned into a popular youth center.
Over the years, Bolden has been presented the opportunity to move out of the Marcus Garvey Houses, but he has chosen to stay. He wants to provide youth with greater opportunities than those afforded to him while he grew up there.
After the tour, Adams wanted to remind people that NYCHA residents are still city residents and that their living conditions should not suffer.
“These tenants are not here for free,” Adams added.
While the tour didn’t end with any definite plans, Bolden is hopeful that the Borough President's office will give him and residents some long overdue help.
In a statement, a NYCHA spokesperson said, “NYCHA is working to make necessary repairs at Marcus Garvey Houses and remains in close contact with residents and the tenants’ association, as well as elected officials, regarding our progress towards improvements. We look forward to further discussions with Borough President Adams regarding specific needs for this development.”