A week ago we held our 30th Anniversary Forum at Fordham University and released our report, Nowhere to Go: A crisis of affordability in the Bronx. The 100 people in the room representing city agencies, banks, foundations, organizers, advocates, researchers, building owners and managers, social service providers and neighborhood leaders, all heard about the many challenges facing Bronx residents as their rents go up and their incomes decline.
We discussed the underlying connections between these challenges facing the Bronx, including housing, homelessness, health, education and wages. The current crisis of affordability fundamentally and negatively impacts all of these areas. Our 30 years of neighborhood work, stretching back even further into the roots of community reinvestment, confirms that strong organizing work will be an integral component of creating a Bronx and NYC that works for everyone including service workers.
We thank our panelists for their contributions as well. John Reilly from Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation highlighted articles from the past decades debating subsidies and public programs to prevent homelessness. He emphasized the need for NYC to accept the success of certain programs as settled and not leave them on the chopping block year after year. Christa Myers from the NYC Department of Health drew the connection between poverty and health which reinforced our call to address the need to raise wages as a way to improve both health and overall quality of life. Finally, Yorman Nunez and Nick Iuviene from the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative lightened the mood with an emphasis on the existing resources in the Bronx, namely the purchasing power of anchor institutions, and the opportunities they provide for worker owned businesses.
One topic raised at the forum by Maryann Rosa of the NY Central Labor Council and Rocio Valerio of New York Communities for Change, highlighted the plight of carwasheros and other tip wage workers who have been left out of recent minimum wage increases. Similarly, one comment card from the forum highlighted the work of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, and their work to increase wages for the more than 165,000 restaurant workers in NYC.
Another comment we heard was about the potential impact of an extended sequestration on housing. Here is a statement from Enterprise on Sequestration’s Impact on Housing the Most Vulnerable People.
We also heard about the proposed rent increases coming up, and how they will exacerbate the existing affordability crisis. The Rent Guidelines Board will hear public testimony on these proposed rent increases on June 13, and will vote on June 20. Details are available here.
We are seeking further feedback.
We are compiling creative ideas and visions, and will be posting these as well as notices of upcoming events, actions and opportunities for folks to get involved on our blog. Submit your contributions via email, Twitter, Facebook, or on our page on LinkedIn.
30 years and the Bronx is still worth fighting for! Join us with your feedback and input, and consider making a donation to our $30 for 30 campaign. Also, we’ll be celebrating heartily at the Bronx Ale House in September again. Look out for the notices and consider adding your name to our commemorative pint glass as a sponsor.
The UNHP Staff