Photo: David Westenhaver. Residents in The Hub. 

The Bronx, for all its challenges, scores highest among the boroughs in optimism, according to a recent survey.

A survey conducted on behalf of Citizens Bank of 5,000 New York City residents, including 780 Bronx residents, asked about their outlook on life. Citywide, 62% of residents indicated that living in New York City made them more optimistic and empathetic.

In the Bronx, that number was 68%.

The bank reported conducting more than 400 hours of in-person street interviews across the city. Comparable “optimism” numbers for other boroughs were:  Queens at 65%, Brooklyn at 62% and Manhattan at 59%.

Rory Sheehan, vice president of media relations at Citizens, said the survey’s purpose was to get to know the needs of the communities that the bank serves. Citizens has five bank branches in the Bronx, but none in the South Bronx.

A random group of South Bronx residents interviewed by the Mott Haven Herald/Hunts Point Express to elaborate on the findings revealed generally positive reactions, accompanied by suggestions for improvement.

Mike Velez, 52, a retired firefighter, said he feels like the Bronx is “up and coming.” The Mott Haven resident specifically said he was excited for all the small businesses that are opening up in the Bronx.

“Buildings are going up and it’s going to be a good place,” said Velez.

Mothers Sarina Quin and Marlene Peguero, interviewed at the Lozado Playground at E. 135th Street and Willis Avenue while watching their children play, agreed that the new construction forecasts a more prosperous future.

Quin said she is also excited about the new buildings going up and the rising popularity of the Bronx. But, she noted, the actual construction is causing a lot of noise and flooding in their neighborhoods.

Peguero said she believes that Bronx communities “can do better.” She would like to see less litter and wants more education on the dangers of drugs and alcohol for teenagers. She also wants more Bronxites to engage in their communities to make them better and looks to the younger generation to improve the quality of life in the Bronx. 

Kennedy Botansis, 16, a student at the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, is working on a collaborative project with Colombia University to gather data about the air quality in the borough. She is optimistic, but wants to work to improve her community by becoming a teacher.

“I want to stay and make (the Bronx) better,” said Botansis.

Sheehan said Citizens Bank is now working on a grant program, to provide $300,000 in funding and mentorship to at least three veteran-owned small business in the Bronx through its Hope4Heroes program.

The program is aimed at helping veteran-owned businesses improve through such strategies as renovating their storefronts or upgrading their business websites. The application is on

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