I’m honored to announce that I’ve been named the recipient of the 2013 Medgar Evers Foot Soldier Award by the NAACP’s White Plains-Greenburgh branch. I’ll be accepting the honor on May 19 at the NAACP’s 2013 Image Awards Freedom Fund Gala, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Tarrytown.
Branch President Lena Anderson cited my coverage of the issues surrounding the fate of the 108-unit WestHELP housing complex, which the town of Greenburgh and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino had sought to demolish. Coverage of the issue was featured in my weekly Tax Watch column and on the Tax Watch blog.
The state of New York last month rejected the proposal from Ferncliff Manor to tear down the housing so it could build a new residential school. Wilson had focused on the potential loss of the publically owned housing asset, valued at $20 million, which was owned free-and-clear by county taxpayers. He also detailed questionable reporting practices by Ferncliff’s lobbyists.
The town of Greenburgh on Tuesday named Group MRH as the operator for the housing complex. The company plans to invest $2 million in renovating the 108 units, which will be rented to tenants aged 55 and older.
Evers was a civil-rights leader who was assassinated in 1963 as he championed the rights of black students to attend the University of Mississippi.
“This award is extended to you for your vigilant work for the civil rights of our low-income and moderate income families to enjoy affordable housing in our community,” Anderson wrote in a letter announcing the award. “Without your astute journalistic insight and honest reporting, our fight for housing would have gone unnoticed. We appreciate your willingness to make sacrifices for the rights of others and to stand for a cause that we all believe is worthwhile.”
The local branch became involved in the issue this winter, and emerged as a strong community voice to preserve the apartments. Anderson spoke several times before the county Board of Legislators, urging the panel to support housing at the site. The branch also sent letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asking him to reject the proposal to tear down the housing he built in 1991 as founder of the HELP organization.
The award will be presented Sunday, May 19 at the NAACP’s 2013 Image Awards Freedom Fund Gala, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 445 Broadway, Tarrytown, NY. Tickets are $85. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.