May 10, 2023

A Great Night in the Bronx! UNHP 40th Anniversary Celebration


What a wonderful evening of generous spirit and goodwill in celebration of UNHP’s 40 years of work in the Bronx built on community organizing, fortified by hard-won financial reinvestment commitments, expanded by countless partnerships and collaborations, and made real through the perseverance and energy of community leaders, Northwest Bronx Resource Center members, staff, and board. The 190+ people in attendance were a good representation of what it takes to be an effective mission-driven 40-year-old community organization: Bronx residents and neighborhood leaders, community, banking, corporate, nonprofit, and for-profit partners, funders, and supporters; talented former and current staff; expert legal, accounting and management support; strong board members, and engaged affordable housing building operators. 

Jim Buckley, UNHP’s Executive Director, in his welcoming remarks, shared that he’s had “several people marvel at the scope and impact of UNHP and all that has to do with the people here who come to meetings and the staff who keeps plugging away. Nothing is accomplished by a single individual or organization; things are accomplished when people listen and learn from each other, set an agenda together, and work to make it happen.” Jim thanked all in attendance and all who contribute to our work. Jim highlighted our top-tier Ruby and Decades sponsors (listed below) all those who donated and everyone who contributes to our mission to create and preserve affordable housing and bring resources to the Bronx. The Norwood News was on hand to cover the event, interview attendees, and highlighted the ongoing need for our mission as the affordable housing crisis worsens.

Joe Muriana, (top center) UNHP’s board president was the evening’s honoree. Al Drummond, Jim Buckley, VaNessa LaNier, Roger Hayes, and John Reilly were part of the program for the evening.

UNHP Board members VaNessa LaNier and Roger Hayes led the program and shared what projects excited them as UNHP Board members. Vanessa, UNHP’s former Director of Data shared the unique perspective that UNHP can offer as a community group that is a community-based housing developer, engages with tenants, serves neighborhood residents, and utilizes research and data to support the mission. Roger, an early Bronx organizer, focused on the continuity of the work and the ability of UNHP to incorporate technology and research to address long-standing issues with multifamily living conditions and the more recent rise in rents. Roger went on to cite the NY Housing Conference Statement on Signature Bank multifamily mortgages and the role of UNHP and its decade-old Building Indicator Project (BIP) database to ensure that the tenants living in the multifamily buildings mortgaged by Signature Bank have habitable, well-maintained, affordable homes.

UNHP selected UNHP’s Board President for 30 of our 40 years, Fordham University administrator, adjunct professor, attorney, community organizer, and executive director,  Joe Muriana, as our honoree. Al Drummond who came to community work in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood through Joe’s early work as an organizer paid tribute to Joe with a reflection on “The Road Taken” by Joe for his life’s work. “All of those living in the Northwest Bronx have benefited because Joe chose the road where his talents could be used for the common good. His talents are many, his passion is real, and the neighborhood is better because of the choices he made.” John Reilly, UNHP Board member and recently retired director of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC) presented Joe with an award and called him Staten Island’s greatest gift to the Bronx. Joe’s many accomplishments and tributes are shared in this post.

The Bronx was the star of the evening starting with a slideshow ( slides highlighted below) that traced the periods of decline and abandonment through to its transformation perhaps best illustrated by the beautiful venue at Serviam Hall, part of the affordable housing Serviam campus developed by Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation in collaboration with the Ursuline Sisters of Bedford Park. Bronx food and drink selections were made available by Miss Vivienne’s CateringGun Hill Brewing CompanyLloyd’s Carrot Cake, and S&S Cheesecake. Music, audio, and visual services were provided by  VMV Entertainment, our beautiful photos shared in this post were ByMarquez, and The Bronx Design Group designed our logos, signs, glasses, and banners. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, donors, and contributors, the event was also a fundraising success! UNHP was able to raise money to support our work in the coming year, including our newest efforts to install solar panels in our affordable housing portfolio, our collaboration with Bronx Ahora, a group of frustrated housing seekers working for deeper affordability and ease of application in housing lotteries and working more closely with community organizing groups to utilize data and acquisition strategies to increase permanent decent affordable housing.

As UNHP began planning for our 40th year we wanted to do a few things; mark the event with a nod to our history and an eye to the future, engage with our partners more deeply, and celebrate in the Bronx, with our pint glasses and a bunch of our friends and partners. We have done all that with our throwback blog posts, virtual and in-person gatherings, and with our 40th and Still Fighting Event! There’s more to come in 2023 and thank you for being a part of our 40th year – we would not have made it without you! We are grateful to be able to celebrate our work to create and preserve affordable housing and bring resources to our Bronx community with you and our many partners. As Jim said in his welcoming remarks; we say thank you a lot at UNHP and here we are saying it again! Enjoy more pictures taken at our event, a thank you to our contributors, and a few slides that trace the Bronx transformation over the past 40 years.

Thank you to all our sponsors and donors, and a special thanks to our Ruby and Decades Sponsors! Pictured above, Ruby Sponsors: Apple Bank, Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, New York Community Bank, a division of Flagstar, N.A. and M&T Bank.

Thank You Again to Our Generous Sponsors, Donors, and Contributors!

Ruby Sponsors $10,000

  • Apple Bank
  • Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation 
  • M&T Bank
  • New York Community Bank, division of Flagstar Bank, N.A.

Decades Sponsors $5,000

  • Amalgamated Bank
  • BNY Mellon
  • B.U.I.L.D. Inc
  • Dougert Management
  • Hayes Family Charitable Fund
  • HSBC Bank USA
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • William & Eileen Kreussling Charitable Foundation
  • Lemle & Wolff Companies
  • Sycamore Birch Management Corporation
  • Valley Bank
  • Webster Bank
  • WMW Realty Management

Affordable Housing Supporter $3,000

  • Jim Buckley and Joan Gasser
  • Community Preservation Corporation
  • Dime Community Bank
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • Esquire Bank
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Popular Bank
  • TRYAX Realty Management
  • Santander Bank
  • WithumSmith+Brown, PC

Research and Action Supporter $2,000

  • In memory of Theresa Liu-Avitabile
  • Bank United
  • Brian J. Byrne & Jean McBride-Byrne
  • Emigrant Bank
  • Highbridge Community Development Corporation
  • Phipps Houses
  • John Van Bomel, Esq

Bronx Service Supporter $1,500

  • Benchmark Title Agency
  • Nancy Dillon & Edward O’Brien
  • DUPO
  • Denis Sullivan & Patricia Haran
  • VaNessa LaNier
  • Joe Muriana and Annelen Madigan
  • Part of the Solution (POTS)
  • Ridgewood Savings Bank
  • Henry Schwalbenberg
  • Skyline 1 LLC
  • Spring Bank

Views NWBX Supporter $800

  • Denis & Peggy Boyle
  • The Bronx Design Group
  • The Bronx Pro Group
  • Brown & Brown
  • The Clarke Family
  • Alfred & Patricia Drummond
  • Sandra Erickson Real Estate, Inc
  • Fordham University
  • Roger & Geri Hayes
  • Johanna C. Kletter
  • The Mitchell Family
  • Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC)
  • Skylar & Sandler, LLP
  • Spanarkel Browne & Associates – Merrill Lynch
  • USA East Province of the Society of Jesus
  • Workforce Housing Group

Community Contributor $300-$700

  • La Familia Abrahamson
  • Diana Breen
  • Linda Blackstock
  • Mark Bourbeau
  • Capital Appraisal Services
  • The Conley Family
  • Dailey Walker Strategies
  • Forsyth Street Affordable Housing
  • Oda C. Friedheim
  • John Reilly & Lois Harr
  • Mike Lappin, Lappin Associates
  • LES People’s Federal Credit Union
  • The Heng Ly Family
  • The Jost Family
  • Chris Planicka
  • The Strojan Family
  • Roxanna Chowdry-Velasquez

Special shout-out to our community partner, Ruby sponsor, and affordable housing collaborator, Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, and its affiliates! FBHC generously provided the venue space and the services of Tony Garcia, bottom left, and cleaned up top right, FBHC’s Super super.

Thank you to The Bronx Design Group for the logos, banners, and custom pint glasses. Thank you to the Northwest Bronx Resource Center members who attended and thanks to Victor of VMV Entertainment for giving us music to dance to and helping our program and slideshow run smoothly.

Thank you, Janelle, Rose, and the matriarch, Miss Vivienne of Miss Vivienne’s Catering for your smiles, effort, and coconut sweet potatoes! Thank you, Angel, from BYMarquez for the beautiful photos, Gunhill Beer for the Bronx-brewed selection, and to FBHC for preserving the beautiful stained glass in Serviam Hall which offered a lovely photo backdrop for our event!

People Power – Public and Private Commitments – Perseverance – Change – Research & Action – Collaboration – Community Development