After the City announced its plans to study 73 (now 92) blocks along Jerome Avenue in September of 2014, as part of the Mayor’s Housing plan, we anxiously awaited community involvement. After five months of very little involvement, we formed a Coalition of faith leaders, auto workers, union members and tenant advocacy groups, called the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision.
Here is a recap of what we’ve done so far:
- Grounded in the belief that community members are the experts, we decided that our first act must be to hold a forum, educating community members about the City’s plans, the study area and the need to get involved, and to hear people’s concerns about what the plan would mean for this neighborhood. On March 5th, in the middle of a snow storm, more than 450 community residents came to learn about the study area, the process of re-zoning and how they can get involved!!!
- After the community forum convened on March 5th, the steering committee met and created a structure for community engagement. From March to June, we held four visioning sessions. At each session, we gave an overview of the community engagement process of our coalition, and presented and shared data and information on the current status of jobs and employment, affordable housing, community involvement, commercial industries and tenant harassment. Grounded in this data and in our shared experiences, we worked in groups at each visioning session to brainstorm a list of solutions. Each session was attended by 100-150 community residents.
- We also collected over 500 surveys about people’s concerns and hopes for the rezoning. This data is used throughout the platform to document the needs identified by community members. And we conducted extensive community outreach to ensure as many residents and workers as possible knew about this process.
- On September 30, 2015, we held a forum where we presented a draft of these policy recommendations to over 150 community residents to gain their insight, feedback and priorities.
- In total, more than 1,500 community members attended the forums and visioning sessions.
- More than 6,500 doors were knocked to tell tenants about the rezoning process and to let them know about the visioning session. More than 322 business owners had conversations with members of the coalition about the rezoning, while all businesses got information and flyers and more than 2,000 community residents were called.
- On October 21, 2015 we released our platform to over 700 residents, workers and city officials! Read the full policy platform in English here and in Spanish here! For a shorter version, go to the executive summary here in English and here in Spanish.
- After the release of our policy platform, we spent the next four months engaging hundreds of residents in a process of prioritizing our recommendations. We then wrote a letter to City Planning outlining our recommendations and urging them to include our recommendations into the plan for Jerome Ave. We are still waiting to hear back from them.
- At the first Jerome Avenue rezoning hearing in September 2016, over 500 workers and tenants rallied and marched to the hearing and testified for over 8 hours demanding the plan include the community’s recommendations or not move forward.
- We held a Town Hall in March 2017 where 300 tenants and workers shared our demands with Councilmembers Vanessa Gibson and Fernando Cabrera
- Over 600 tenants and workers marched down the Grand Concourse in June 2017 to demand real affordable housing and then again 300 tenants and workers marched down Jerome Avenue in opposition to the plan as it does not include include our recommendations.
- We won our major anti-displacement/anti-harassment demands including establishing a Right to Counsel for tenants facing eviction in Housing Court and a Certificate of No Harassment requiring landlords to prove they have not harassed tenants for 5 years before they can receive permits to begin construction. We also won landmark worker protection rights requiring contractors using City funding for construction to provide safety training programs.
- Since the City moved forward with and expanded the Jerome Avenue plan, tenants and workers have packed the Community Board 4 and 5, Bronx Borough President’s and City Planning Commission hearings where hundreds of tenants and workers testified in opposition to the plan.
- The fight is not over now that the ULURP process is over! We are focusing our efforts in fighting the multiple long-term strategies in their attempt to displace rent-stabilized low-income tenants of color for future, white, higher income-earning tenants.
Call Sheila Garcia for more information at 718-716-8000, ext. 125.