Officials want teens to be more involved in city policies, and on Wednesday, some young people got a chance to voice their opinions about a NYCHA practice that could impact them. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
It's a NYCHA policy meant to keep the city's 328 developments safe.
"A lot of public housing authorities across the nation have a policy that if one person is engaged in drug-related criminal activity, that housing authority can actually evict every single person in the household," said Leah Goodridge, supervising attorney at MFY Legal Services.
In a city where drug- and gang-related crime, as well as homelessness, has been an issue, this policy that could potentially leave some New Yorkers without a place to live has its supporters and detractors.
Wednesday night, the policy known as permanent exclusion was up for debate among teenagers who live in the Bronx's Highbridge Gardens.
"Often times, as elected officials, we don't engage young people, and they have a voice," said City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson of the Bronx.
The goal of the Youth Court, sponsored by MFY Legal Services and Gibson, was to explain NYCHA's policy to young people and give them an opportunity to critique it. They were given a real-life scenario, asked to chose sides and defend their argument.
The case: a grandmother faces eviction along with her 20-year-old grandson because he was selling drugs.
"Why they going to evict both of them? Instead, why they can't just leave the grandma?" said one of the teens.
"It is harsh, so at first, I wasn't really for it, but I understood where they were coming with it," said another.
It wasn't just about voicing their opinions. What was expressed at the Youth Court could effect change citywide.
"It's an opportunity for them to directly present their ideas to an elected official to see how these ideas might manifest and play into actual law," Goodridge said.
"We do take everything we hear into consideration as we move forward and have those critical conversations with the housing authority," Gibson said.
Something these teens say they appreciate.
"The kids should really have a big voice," one teen said.
The Youth Court held here is just one of many. Gibson says she plans to hold others throughout the 16th District.