WHDC Unifies Grant and Manhattanville Residents After Mass Arrests

Residents tell WHDC what permanent solutions to violence and lack of resources they would like funded

West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) brought residents of Grant and Manhattanville Houses together at a meeting that fostered a dialog between the residents of the housing complexes and offered an opportunity for the residents to tell WHDC what programs they would benefit from.

“This meeting is just the first step in the path to nonviolence and better quality of life for the youth and other residents at Grant and Manhattanville Houses,” said WHDC Executive Director Kofi A. Boateng, PhD. “We do not pretend to have the answers, so we sought them from the residents themselves. We will now take these ideas and form them into realistic benefits.”

WHDC hosted the unifying gathering at Manhattan Pentecostal Church, located between the two complexes, in response to the much-publicized history of violence and the biggest gang takedown in New York City history at the complexes on June 4, 2014. WHDC has banded with parents of youth arrested in the takedown, leadership from both complexes, ministers, community-based organizations and law enforcement in a broad attempt to come up with permanent solutions to issues like violence and lack of resources that have permeated the community for decades.

“One of my dreams and aspirations is that we can come together and get the young people and community involved and move forward to revitalize our community,” said Taylonn Murphy, father of Tayshana (Chicken) Murphy who was gunned down during the Grant and Manhattanville conflict on September 11, 2011.

Impact Repertory Theatre, a WHDC grant recipient, started off the show with songs from its Off-Broadway musical Peace Warriors with real-life situations and themes that reflect the lives of Grant and Manhattanville youth. Impact opened up the conversation with a talk-back session about the songs.

The Brotherhood/Sister Sol moderated the discussions between residents. Youth from both complexes were able to voice their opinions in one room while adults also talked about solutions and programming they needed in a separate room. All residents, youth and adults, came together to share conclusions.

WHDC will help direct services to the residents through its grant activities, and also ensure the residents use a $3-million fund available to Grant and Manhattanville Houses in the 2009 Community Benefits Agreement. Some of WHDC’s grant recipients were at the meeting to sign up residents for programs in education and workforce development.

WHDC is charged with implementing the Community Benefits Agreement signed with Columbia University in 2009. WHDC has granted $4 million to 119 nonprofits that serve West Harlem/Community District 9 with programs in education, housing, workforce development and other important areas.

WHDC has also contributed $2 million in funding to youth and senior summer employment programs. WHDC’s mission is to promote increased economic opportunities and quality of life to sustain a vibrant West Harlem community.

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