A team working to renovate more than 1,700 units of public housing across 16 developments and 40 buildings in Manhattan is giving back to the thousands of families, children and seniors impacted by the tenant-in-place renovations.
PACT Renaissance Collaborative, the development team in charge of financing, rehabilitating and managing the 16 developments, organized a turkey drive to make sure the residents of their buildings are able to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. The PACT Renaissance Collaborative team is made up of not-for-profit and for-profit partners that specialize in developing, maintaining and revitalizing affordable housing.
“We are doing a tenant-in-place rehab, meaning that tenants are going through a pretty significant renovation of their apartments while they are in place which is really stressful,” said Amy Stokes, assistant vice president of Monadnock Development and part of the PACT Renaissance Collaborative team. “It’s not easy work, and the success of this relies on cooperation with our residents, and we know the inconvenience that’s caused by the renovation. So, we really wanted to say thank you in any way possible.”
From Nov. 17 through Nov. 19, the team distributed over 1600 turkeys and 500 oven stuffers from a few of the developments undergoing renovation including the residence at 139, 120 West 140th St., the 99 Fort Washington residence and the WISE Towers residence at 133 West 90th in Harlem. Residents living in any of the 16 developments could go to these locations to pick up their turkey.
The line for turkey at 99 Fort Washington stretched down the hall as many excited seniors waited in line with their wagons ready to wheel the turkey back to their units.
“After two years of not really having Thanksgiving, this has been the first year that turkey means something to everybody,” said Olga Lauriano who lives at 99 Fort Washington, is the building’s tenant association president and helped check people in at the turkey drive.
One of the building renovations included new ovens. Many of the residents will have the chance to use their ovens for the first time to cook the turkey, Lauriano said.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Lauriano said. “Thanksgiving is an American holiday, but it’s really a holiday for the world because you’re giving to one another. And food is like medicine to people. The times that you enjoy the most are when you share, and this is a building of sharing. We take care of one another.”
The PACT Renaissance Collaborative was selected by New York City Housing Authority to repair and renovate the units under the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together Program. The team is also responsible for providing comprehensive on the ground social services. Community League of the Heights is serving as the social service provider for the PACT Renaissance Collaborative and was also involved with the turkey drive.
“It makes me so happy. I am so thrilled that we can be a positive part of people’s lives,” Stokes said. “It’s been a long road and we have a lot more to do, but bringing happiness to people makes me happy and makes my job worth it.”
Venus Williams, the tenant association president at Washington Heights Rehab Phase III, took off work to hand out turkeys on Thursday.
“I see the glitter of the holiday season in their (the residents’) eyes. Some don’t know where their next meal is going to come from so this alleviates some of that financial pressure,” Venus said. Adding, “We are helping every tenant that needs a turkey. We are going to make sure that’s done today. It’s going to be a successful renovation and transition and things like this gives the residents a lot of hope and it eases their concerns and tensions about this whole transition that’s going on and shows that we care.”