Activists: NYCHA must hear our input

The New York City Housing Authority is preparing to finalize its annual plan for 2009, but some activists say residents are not being given enough of a voice in what the agency does.
Several advocacy groups, such as Mothers On the Move, converged on the Manhattan Center on 34th Street Wednesday night to offer input about what the NYCHA should do to pare down a multimillion-dollar deficit.
?We don't have [a] say so, really,? says Ray Smith, who attended the meeting.
Mothers On the Move wants the city agency to find alternate ways to cut spending and raise revenue without resorting to service cuts, rent hikes and the closing of senior centers. The groups received support from a local councilman.
?We're here to say, 'You find a way.' We want centers kept open,? says Councilman Jimmy Vacca (D-Bronx). ?Community and senior centers are important to people who live and work in public housing.?
Vacca promised a major fight if the NYCHA attempts to close centers. Advocate groups say they have already begun to advise public housing tenants about the potential cuts.
Because the housing authority gets money yearly from Washington, it has to submit an annual plan to the federal government. That plan touches on issues such as building maintenance, staffing and whether new public housing units will be built.
The hearing Wednesday was the last opportunity for public input before a final meeting in September in which the draft document will be presented to the public. The document will then be sent to Washington in October.