Theme 1: Relationship with the built environment and infrastructure
Participants discussed their physical environment and services that provide residents with maintenance and upkeep, safe places to gather outside, and other essential resources. Residents cited the ability to “Be Outside” e.g. kids playing, residents gathering outside, and community events as a key indicator of their neighborhood thriving. They also detailed how the infrastructure and the cleanliness of their neighborhood impacted the wellbeing on residents and the community more generally.
Theme 2: Availability and awareness of resources
Participants provided examples of the importance of having resources available to the community. They also detailed how important it is that residents are made aware of these services. For example, some residents felt that their community needed more access to technological services such as internet, wi-fi, tablets, mobile, social media, to name a few. They described how older residents can have challenges accessing and using such technological services and should be prioritized in community outreach.
Theme 3: Government relations with communities
Participants described some of the disconnect between city government and their community. The detailed mistrust, cultural misunderstandings between communities and government officials, and the relationship between communities and law enforcement as areas in need of improvement. For instance, residents wanted to come by the community and engage with residents year-round, instead of around election time when they are in need of votes.
Focus Group #2 Findings
An early prototype of one part of the Neighborhood Navigator was presented to community members for feedback during this second focus group meeting. Community members felt the Neighborhood Navigator could be used to better understand what is happening in a community or neighborhood, but that it is not a replacement for on the ground presence from the mayor's office and other government agencies.
Community members also felt that delays in actually implementing improvements would further weaken the relationship between local government and community members as their needs would continue to be ignored. Participants suggested establishing scoring to track changes and accountability, and to direct and prioritize policies and investment in the built environment of NYCHA.
Some residents expressed doubts that information collected from the tool would result in actual, tangible changes based on residents’
"It just seems like even though we had these complaints, and things like that, we're still not being heard. So, this is a good way to probably, you know, generate things to be changed, but it's like, we the people that's living in these communities, they say they want to come and help but they don't really do much." Francis age 35-40
Community members felt that to get the most out of any initiative, input must reflect all generations that reside in NYCHA (youth to senior/elderly). Members also expressed concern that technology-based solutions need to also be usable by its most senior or elderly residents.
"my concern is more for the elderly—and for them to have input on what's being done and what changes would they like to see in their developments?" Aaron 45-50
Lastly, some residents expressed suspicion of the government or research team’s motivations for using the tool, including concerns for how the data and feedback could impact existing residents.