Breukelen Houses is located in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn and borders East New York on the eastern tip of the development. There are 1,595 apartment units spread out over 65 acres. There are approximately 6,000 residents with 3,700 youths from zero to 18 years old. Breukelen Houses is mostly located in the 69th Precinct. The 69th Precinct is most famous for being the birthplace of deceased rapper Pop Smoke and the home of the Woo street organization. Another famous Woo rapper, TDott, was killed in February in Canarsie in a still unsolved shooting. On July 13, 2020, during the height of the pandemic, there were three drive-by shootings (resulting in five shooting victims) within 14 minutes less than 1.5 miles apart in Canarsie’s 69th Precinct. Due to these incidents and other factors, Mayor Adams recently identified the 69th Precinct to house one of the Neighborhood Safety Teams – whose sole purpose is to reduce gang activity and remove illegal guns from the streets.
According to Kallah Kizer, President of a local community-based organization called Breukelen RISE, “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We need more resources. Our young folks need spaces that are equipped to meet their socio-emotional needs that are aligned with 2022. A community center built in 1954 is unable to meet current needs. Breukelen has not received any renovations to modernize our community center since the Truman administration – when it was originally built. Bayview Houses, Glenwood Houses, Gershwin Park – just to name a few – have all received new or upgrades to their community centers.”
Breukelen RISE has submitted a petition to Community Board 18 of over 500 signatures from current and alumni residents requesting a new community center. In fact, CB 18 listed the need for a new community center for Breukelen in its annual Community and Needs Assessment report. Then-Borough President Adams also provided a letter of support for building a new Breukelen Community Center.
“Our community center can be a valuable tool to help decrease gun violence but the present facility is ill-equipped. We have one level that houses a multipurpose room and a few outdated rear classrooms plus a basement. We need to be upgraded similar to our neighbors in adjoining zip codes” said Kizer. “Recently, we had a virtual meeting with a local elected politician where we shared the action steps taken by our group. The following week, the community center received new doors. We can’t say this is a response to our meeting, but new doors on an old facility are like putting lipstick on a pig. If we want to empower the community by implementing prevention supportive programs and activities, a viable and modern community center is vital. Our hope is that we get action on this soon before another life is lost.”