Analysis of Public Housing in Yonkers, New York
Today, Yonkers has eighteen public housing units: Cottage Place Gardens, Schlobohm Houses, Hall Homes, Loehr Court, Calcagno Homes, Walsh Road Homes, Curran Court, Kris Kristensen Homes, Flynn Manor, Martinelli, Troy Manor, O’Rourke Townhouse, R Valentine Townhouses, Doran Townhouses, Andrew Smith Townhouses, Albert Fiorillo Townhouses, Regan Townhouses, and Christopher Townhouses. In 2009, there were nineteen units. The city demolished the oldest public housing unit, Mulford Gardens, due to the decrepit state of the buildings.
Mulford Gardens was a “complex of 17 connecting three-story buildings in the… southwest” of Yonkers. These 17 buildings provided 552 apartments for low income families. Mulford Gardens had outdoor playgrounds, recreation rooms, and a laundry room, which residents stopped using because these areas filled with crime. Unfortunately, Mulford Garden began to deteriorate over time and required constant maintenance. Yonkers spent “millions of dollars over the years on patchwork repairs” and determined that Mulford Gardens had too much damage. This promoted the Hope VI program which decided that “the best thing to do was to knock it down and build it anew”. The Hope VI program marked a new era for public housing. The program wanted to promote “physical improvements, management improvements, and social and community services to address resident needs”. As a result, in 2009 bulldozers took Mulford Gardens down and began to brainstorm on ideas for a new unit, later called Croton Heights Apartments. Yonkers aimed to get rid of the problems that existed in Mulford Gardens, of drugs, gangs, and crime, with the creation of a unit that provided housing to people with mixed incomes. Thus, Croton Heights Apartment divided into “Park Terrace at Croton Heights, a brand-new, $19.1 million, 49-unit senior rental facility, and Grant Park at Croton Heights, a $45.5 million residential apartment community that will bring 100 affordable apartments to the City.” This caused several Mulford Gardens residents to lose their home and some had to leave Yonkers. Nonetheless, Yonkers believes the creation of Croton Heights Apartments will have numerous benefits, including an improvement in the quality of life.
Two years after the opening of Mulford Gardens, Yonkers built a new housing unit called Cottage Place Gardens. This unit “consists of 256 units of conventional Public Housing situated on 5.29 acres of land” for the elderly and families. The design of Cottage Place Gardens includes “14 buildings that range from 3 to 4-stories with full basements as well as two elevator buildings.” Cottage Place Garden experiences similar issues of poor infrastructure and crime as Mulford Gardens, which resulted in the inclusion of Cottage Place Garden in the Hope VI program. Yonkers also wants to demolish the existing unit and create a new development that provides housing to mixed income families. Once again, the area may improve but the residents are displaced.
Approximately ten years later, Yonkers built Schlobohm Houses for low-income families. This unit has eight 8-floor buildings and shared spaces, such as the playground. As the city’s funds diminished, so did the conditions of Schlobohm. The development contains “trash and graffiti, broken glass in the playground, light fixtures missing in hallways…drug dealers.” Yonkers aimed to fix one of Yonkers’ large public housing units with the implementation of “security measures and surveillance, aesthetic enhancements and repairs, a new health clinic and computer lab, and a new laundry room.” This improved the conditions of Schlobohm, but required a large amount of Yonkers’ fund to maintain.
During the 1960s Yonkers experienced an increase in population. This migration brought a significant amount of low-income individuals. As a result, Yonkers needed to create public housing units for its new inhabitants. Within the years 1962 and 1967, six public housing units opened in Yonkers. Only two of these units, Hall Homes and Calcagno Homes, were for low income families. These developments were higher than the previous public housing units. Yonkers wanted to provide an abundant amount of residences while preserving space and money. The remaining four units, Loehr Court, Walsh Homes, Curran Court, and Kristensen Homes, were for the elderly. The public housing units built afterwards, Flynn Manor, Martinelli, and Troy Manor, were complexes for the elderly. In fact, “councilmen and the public equated senior citizen housing with housing for whites, and in fact, few of the residents of Yonkers' senior citizen housing projects have been minorities,” which made elderly units acceptable. Yonkers stopped the production of public housing units for families until the desegregation case. Based on this, Yonkers’ aversion to public housing grew apparent. However, Yonkers lost authority of their public housing and the federal government forced the city to create new developments.
After the States v. City of Yonkers proceedings, Yonkers had to build 200 new public housing units on the east side of the Saw Mill Parkway. The plan originally anticipated the creation of high-rises. However, Oscar Newman, the architect, felt:
Prior to the 1990s, Yonkers’ public housing units had community spaces and no sense of ownership. Many believed this allowed crime to thrive. In addition, high-rises supported segregation and reaffirmed suspicion of minorities. Newman’s proposal created seven townhouse style public housing units, called O’Rourke Townhouses, Valentine Townhouses, Doran Sr. Townhouses, Smith Townhouses, Fiorillo Townhouses, Christopher Townhouses, and Reagan Townhouses. In 1992, the townhouses opened and “had a fenced-in backyard, an eat-in kitchen and a staircase with turned banisters.” The privacy and sense of ownership that the townhouses created indicated a shift in the architectural style of public housing units. This shift promoted the maintenance of the townhouses by the residences themselves so the structures can last for decades to come. This showed how “architecture [can]… influence human behavior. The goal of these townhouses was to transcend racial polarization and as a result “East Yonkers has become more diverse and the area has thrived.”
 Fernanda Santos “New Take on Public Housing: Destroying It to Save It,” New York Times, August 5, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/07/nyregion/07yonkers.html?pagewanted=all.
 Fernanda Santos.
 Fernanda Santos.
 “About Hope VI,” http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/programs/ph/hope6/about.
 "Yonkers Breaks Ground on Croton Heights Phase II" http://yonkerstribune.typepad.com/yonkers_tribune/2010/07/yonkers-breaks-ground-on-croton-heights-phase-ii.html. (July 21, 2010).
 "Exhibit C – Need,” http://www.mhacy.com/files/mhacyexhibitC.pdf. (2009)
 "Exhibit C – Need”
 Sara Rimer “Yonkers Anguish:Black and White in 2 Worlds," New York Times, December 22, 1987.http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/22/nyregion/yonkers-anguish-black-and-white-in-2-worlds.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
"Amicone Tours New & Improving Schlobohm Housing" http://www.cityofyonkers.com/index.aspx?recordid=251&page=152 (2007)
 "837 F. 2d 1181 –United ates v. Yonkers Board of Education." http://openjurist.org/837/f2d/1181/united-states-v-yonkers-board-of-education.
 Lisa Belkin Show Me A Hero (1999). Fernanda Santos “Mixed Success in Yonkers,” New York Times, May 28, 2006.
 Bill Kavanagh.