Bronxites attend a meeting for the Bronxwide Plan at The YMCA in Melrose on April 5. Photo by Geovaira Hernandez.

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Organizers in the South Bronx brought residents together on Wednesday evening, to lay out next steps on an ambitious plan that calls on community members to take an active role slowing displacement and reshaping their neighborhoods. 

Some 100 people gathered at the new YMCA near The Hub, where community leaders presented the next phase of the Bronxwide Plan. The plan was created in 2019, to combat the effects of skyrocketing rents brought about by rapid development, such as has taken place in Mott Haven and Port Morris in recent years.

The community groups who created the plan, including The Point CDC and Nos Quedamos, say that increasing collective, local ownership of businesses and homes is Bronxites’ best shot at keeping wealth in their communities. 

The current phase of the plan calls on residents to raise the pressure on lawmakers in the city and in Albany, to keep the borough affordable for Bronxites.

Dariella Rodriguez, The Point’s director of community development, said Bronx groups are “bringing together residents from all our bases to develop the Bronxwide Plan.”

The plan, Rodriguez said, is “grounded in economic democracy and shared values and principles to ensure that the future of the Bronx is aligned with the vision of those who live here, and want to stay here.”

“We’re the last affordable borough in New York City,” said Sandra Lobo, executive director of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. “If we don’t do anything, we’ll get priced out, too.”

A representative from Construction and General Building Laborers’ Local 79 advised that the community organizing part of the initiative is about to heat up. 

“The next phase is we’re going to all literally go to the state and go to the city and say economic democracy is what we’re looking for,” said Karla Cruz. “We’ve been doing this work for the last three years and now we’re ready to take this to the streets.”

When residents were invited to rank priorities from the plan, they selected affordable housing as the most pressing issue borough-wide. 

The Bronx as a whole witnessed a sharp increase in evictions after the pandemic-era eviction moratorium ended at the start of 2022. By the end of the year, the borough saw the second highest number of evictions in New York state, making up 9.5% of total filings, according to a study by Cornell University. Alongside evictions, the Community Service Society of New York (CSS) found that 65% of tenants in the Bronx saw their rents go up in the same period. 

Just before the meeting came to a close, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took the mic to encourage attendees to get involved in the Plan as it progresses. Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes Hunts Point and Longwood, applauded the plan and grassroots groups for proposing locally-based solutions for their communities. 

“We’re going to fight for economic democracy, we’re going to fight for racial justice, for social justice,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We’re going to keep supporting you all the way.”


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