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Autistic Children Threatened With Violence on School Bus

June 4, 2010

I am writing to address my concerns regarding our children’s problematic daily bus routes to and from school. My daughter, Delilah Barber, is a 7-year-old autistic child who attends P.S. 17 at P.S. x179.

On Wednesday, May 6, 2010, her minivan service was changed in err to a large bus, Lonero x056. This change brought great devastation to my daughter, which included daily arriving to school late to the endangering of her welfare.

Leonero’s x056 consists of older children who are extremely violent, rude and aggressive in nature. On Thursday, May 7, when my daughter started this route, she was physically and verbally threatened by other students on this bus. Her bus para received hits on her head, pushes and shoves, on various occasions, as she tried to protect my child. On Friday, May 8 and again on Tuesday, May 11 the police stopped the school bus to stabilize the children’s behavior before they proceeded to and from school. On Monday, May 10, a female child threatened to beat my daughter with her belt. It was only when the para threatened to call the police and press charges that the child stopped the aggressive behavior.

I called the Office of Pupil Transportation to inquire about why elementary school aged autistic children are being transported with emotionally disturbed high school students or why there was such a large student to personnel ratio on the bus. I also made several complaints about the situation on the bus.

After two weeks of advocating, my daughter was removed from this bus. However, there remain young children, who are still being brutalized daily on this bus. Our children deserve the right to have safe bussing service to and from our homes. Fortunately, my daughter had a bus para to protect her. But, many of these non-verbal autistic children have no protectors on these buses.

My hope is that this letter reaches everyone who has the power to further investigate this matter and to make changes in our educational and transportation system.

Melissa Barber, Morris Avenue

Mount Hope Provides Quality Affordable Housing

February 5, 2009

Editor’s note: This letter is in response to the recent news article in the January issue of the Monitor that detailed concerns raised by tenants at 1892 Morris Ave., some of whom have taken Mount Hope to court because they say the organization has failed to make building repairs.

When Mount Hope was established 23 years ago, community advocacy and creating safe, decent, and affordable housing was truly the core value from which the Mount Hope Housing Company started, and community advocacy will always be a part of our mission. 

Mount Hope management, however, was very concerned about the statements made by tenants of our flagship building at 1892 Morris Avenue since most of the housing concerns were resolved (between October 2007 and September 2008) prior to the published article in January 2009. 

All problems related to the pest problems have been dismissed and cleared by the NYC Department of Housing and Preservation and the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal. To eliminate pest problems, Mount Hope invested and secured a pest elimination company and not a pest control company to ensure that all rodents were eliminated from the building.  In addition, the Mount Hope Housing Company is committed to revitalizing its 110 units at 1892 Morris, and the organization’s 30 additional buildings.  We will continue to incorporate a sustainable neighborhood concept into our community development approach, and provide collaborative, comprehensive, and synergist programming to the community.

Again, we encourage our tenants be advocates for their community.  Tenants can call the 24-hour Customer Service Hotline, and Mount Hope’s Community Ambassador Program to discuss housing management concerns. The program was created in October 2007 to strengthen the relationship between tenants of all 31 buildings, and to engage them in becoming advocates for their community, and to help them learn about the products and services that the Mount Hope Housing Company provides for the community. 

Tenants can reach the 24-hour Customer Service Hotline at (866) 279-6388. The Community Ambassador program’s number is (718) 299-7177.

Mount Hope Housing Company

Term Limits Extension Ignores Will of the People

December 3, 2008

I am very disappointed that our Bronx reps did not respect the voters’ majority will to push for a referendum on the ballot on term limits. I will not be voting for any of the incumbents (such as Maria Baez, my Council member) who so obviously don’t respect the opinions of their residents. As for Ms. Baez, I believe she has done a horrible job and I regret fully having voted for her. In fact, I will volunteer to campaign for any Democrat who wants to run against her! As for the mayor, he may have had my vote for a third term had the citizens of the city voted to extend term limits. However, I am now even more convinced that he’s a despot and that is not what will help this city.

Donya Rhett, West Tremont Avenue

What I saw at the polls

December 3, 2008

On Election Day I worked as a coordinator at the polling station at PS 59 (2185 Bathgate Ave.). I have never seen such enthusiasm and youth involvement. There were young people coming in to vote that not even registered. They were under the impression that they could register and vote all at the same time. When I told them they couldn’t vote, they were so disappointed. They told me that they just wanted to vote for Obama. I encouraged them to register anyway, so that in the future they could be included in the process. So they registered at my site, hopefully feeling a little better. 

There was a camaraderie that I have never felt at any election before. One Hispanic gentleman grabbed me and hugged me and asked whether he could vote twice. “You know I voted for Obama,” he said smiling.

The most touching interaction of that day for me was when a tall young black gentleman approached me telling me that his grandmother wanted to vote, but that she was very ill and couldn’t make it to the polls. He said she needed to be a part of this historic election. I told him the only way she could vote without showing up, was if she’s requested an absentee ballot.  But it was too late for that. He then called her and put her on the phone with me. She told me she was so sick that she didn’t think she was going to live, but that she wanted to cast her vote for Obama. I then called the Board of Elections to see if anything could be done. They said she would have to be present either at my poll site or at the Board of Elections. Her disappointed grandson went home to give her the distressing news. About 45 minutes later I looked up and saw this young man and alongside him was this little elderly lady walking very slowly.  I guided her slowly to the front of the line and helped her sign in and enter the booth. She was breathing rapidly but she had this determination. After voting she came out crying, because she was so overjoyed.

What a wonderful day I had. Usually, after working 16 hours I am so tired I can’t even think. But after the joy and enthusiasm I didn’t feel at all fatigued. I felt euphoric.

Bernice M. Williams, Webster Avenue  

Davidson Avenue Playground

March 5, 2008

In the article “Parks in Need of Repair” published in the February edition of the Mount Hope Monitor, the author, Jose Roman wrote about the dilapidated condition of a park on Davidson Avenue near 177th Street.
As a resident of the community, I agree that we should do something about this park. As the president of the Mount Hope Community Ambassador Program, a tenant leadership program of the Mount Hope Housing Company, I am more than willing to work with other community ambassadors and local tenants to rebuild the park and to revitalize our community once and for all. I urge other residents to take interest in this issue, and to help in the process. Together we can make a difference!

John Ode, 176th Street

Pick It Up!

December 6, 2007

I live on Morris Avenue. The streets around here – Morris, Townsend, and Mount Hope Place – all have one thing in common: they’re covered in dog mess. It’s ridiculous and it’s a problem that’s getting worse. Years ago, at least older dog owners used to pick up what their pets left behind. Now no one does, and so no one’s setting an example to younger dog owners. It’s not only disgusting; it’s a health issue, too. When dog feces are trampled into people’s apartments they can cause asthma and other diseases.

Something needs to be done. The community board, or the Bronx borough president’s office, or our elected officials need to step in. Yes, the Sanitation Department puts up signs saying people will be fined if they don’t clean up after their dogs, but I’ve yet to see someone get caught. What we need is a Sanitation Department patrol to patrol the streets early in the morning, to catch people walking their dogs before work, and again in the late afternoon. They should give out hefty tickets. A $500 fine should put a stop to this behavior. If someone’s fined $500 then word will get around that this is being taken seriously.  Don’t tell me the city can’t afford it. They have the money.

Another thing that would help is security cameras. That’s what I’d love to see. God knows our neighborhood needs it. That way you catch the dog owners who don’t clean up poop and the graffiti taggers as well. You can’t talk about privacy or how Big Brother’s watching you. Your privacy is inside your home, not outside. If you don’t want them to know what you’re doing in the street you must have something to hide.

You’ve got to care about your community. This is all we have. We can’t go to the suburbs or get a luxury apartment. In Manhattan, below 96th Street, you don’t have these quality of life issues. Why should we have to put up with them in our neighborhood?

Willie Simmons, Morris Avenue