Mother tried to move away

By Joe Anuta

After Shanta Merritt’s son was shot in June, she took the police report to the city and requested a transfer out of South Jamaica Houses to protect her family, but the New York City Housing Authority told her she needed at least two police reports before it could take any action.

Now she has the second.

Darryl Adams, 18, was shot again early Friday morning, only this time he did not live. And amid his mother’s grief is anger at the city for not trying to place her family in safer housing sooner.

“I told them I can’t live here no more,” she said. “They denied me.”

City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) said that in response to Adams’ death he is preparing to hold an investigation in April as to why Merritt’s request for a transfer took so long.

“We getting to ready to have an oversight hearing because of this and other incidents with NYCHA not getting this process done as expeditiously as possible,” he said. “This is a tragedy.”

A spokesperson for NYCHA did immediately respond to a request for comment.

The city did eventually offer Merritt a transfer six days before her son was shot, but she said it was in a housing project in Harlem that seemed even more dangerous than the one she was currently living in, so she turned it down.

According to NYCHA documents about the emergency transfer program, it provides the service to victims of domestic violence, victims of crimes and witnesses who cooperate with law enforcement.

“NYCHA does not guarantee that a transfer application will be approved, nor do we guarantee how long it will take to process a transfer application,” the agency said in the document. “Because different boroughs have different numbers of families waiting for available apartments, NYCHA cannot guarantee how long it will take before an apartment reassignment is made. However, qualified applicants who are willing to be flexible about their borough choice may be moved more quickly.”

Earlier this year NYCHA said it had 161,000 people waiting for public housing and 120,000 waiting for Section 8 housing, which is subsidized housing outside of a project.

According to Wills, NYCHA’s policy should be less vague and the agency should have done more to put Adams and her family in safe housing after the initial shooting over the summer.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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