The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) consists of 334 public housing developments that provide over 400,000 New Yorkers with homes. Based on those robust numbers, the city's various housing developments are bound to produce a number of success stories. By success stories, we mean people who have excelled far beyond their humble beginnings, leaving a lasting impact on the city and, in some cases, the world.
While NYCHA has produced several prosperous and well-known entertainers, its stories of triumph extend beyond the realm of entertainment, as well. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, former New York City Congressman Gary Ackerman, and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns—the first black woman to be named CEO of a Fortune 500 company—are all products of New York City public housing.
New York City housing projects have historically been a breeding ground for many ranks of intelligent, talented people, an inspiring fact that proves that personal possibilities are not rooted in your beginnings, but based on one's drive to succeed. These notable former residents of NYC housing projects prove that impetus can truly take you anywhere you'd like to go.
Written by Julian Kimble (@JRK316)
Walt Whitman Houses
James Weldon Johnson Houses
Eleanor Roosevelt Houses
Ralph Rangel Houses
Metro North Plaza Houses
The Metro North Plaza Houses are three Manhattan buildings ranging from 7 to 11-stories high. Their 269 apartment units are home to 654 people, and the structure was completed on top of just over two acres in August 1971. Actor and Grammy-winning singer Marc Anthony was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in the Metro North Plaza Houses. Even if you don't listen to his music (he's the bestselling tropical salsa artist of all time, but hey) you need to give props where they're due: the Puerto Rican singer and record producer held down J-Lo for 8 years. A record, for sure.
Bernard M. Baruch Houses
The Bernard M. Baruch Houses were name for Baruch, who got filthy rich on Wall Street, but is best known for serving as an economic advisor to the U.S. during both World War l and ll. Legend has it that he would meet officials on benches, hence the nickname "The Park Bench Statesman." Completed in June 1959, the Baruch houses are the largest NYCHA housing development in Manhattan. It contains 17 buildings, some as tall as 14 stories tall. It covers over 27 acres and is over to over 5,000 residents.
The most notable person to come from the Baruch Houses is Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox. Burns began her career at Xerox in 1980, working her way up the ranks before eventually being named CEO in 2009. That made her the first woman to succeed another as CEO of a Fortune 500 company, as well as the first African-American woman to be named CEO of a fortune 500 company.
James Monroe Houses
The Bronx's James Monroe Houses were named after the fifth President of the United States, the man who assisted in the Lousiana Purchase negotiations. Prior to moving into the White House, Monroe was a senator, the governor of Virginia, and a minister to France. The Monroe Houses opened in 1961, built on nearly 19 acres of land. It is composed of 12 buildings, some up to 15-stories in height, and home to over 2,800 people. Actor and martial artist Wesley Snipes lived in the Monroe Houses and eventually transitioned from small roles (an appearance in Michael Jackson's Martin Scorsese-directed "Bad" video) to blockbusters (the Blade series) and some of the most important films of the 20th century (New Jack City). Former NBA player and current Chicago Bulls assistant coach Ed Pinckney—who was named Most Outstanding Player of the 1985 Final Four after leading Villanova University to a stunning victory over heavily-favored Georgetown—grew up in the Monroe Houses, as well.