MOTT HAVEN COMMUNITY HOSTS TOWN HALL ON SITING OF NEW JAIL IN SOUTH BRONX NEIGHBORHOOD – March 8

MOTT HAVEN COMMUNITY HOSTS TOWN HALL ON SITING OF NEW JAIL IN SOUTH BRONX NEIGHBORHOOD

Jail Would Be Setback for a Community in Need of Schools, Housing, Economic Development 

WHAT:                Town Hall Protesting Plan for New Jail in the South Bronx

WHEN:                Thursday, March 8, 6:00 PM

WHERE:              P.S. 65 Mother Hale Academy

677 E 141st St, Bronx, NY                     

BACKGROUND:

On Thursday, March 8, Diego Beekman community members will gather at a town hall meeting on Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s plan to build a new jail in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx at 320 Concord Avenue, the site of the old Lincoln Hospital.

While the goals motivating the effort to close Rikers Island are worthy, this progress should not be made at the expense of a single neighborhood that has historically been over-saturated with facilities and challenges that other areas of New York City have not wanted to deal with, such as the waste transfer stations, sewage treatment plants, industrial/commercial facilities, and the siting of excessive homeless shelters and drug treatment programs. Four fifths of the shelter beds located within Bronx Community Board One are located within a few blocks of Diego Beekman and the jail site.

An alternative development plan for the community, formed over the past two years in consultation with community residents, organizations, City agencies, and local elected officials, envisions a series of transformational investments in services and the physical environment, the Plan includes three sites for housing development, a much-needed supermarket, retail space, light manufacturing, and other civic resources.

ABOUT THE DIEGO BEEKMAN COMMUNITY

In the 1960s and ‘70s, the South Bronx underwent devastating changes as concentrated poverty and abandonment spread across the borough’s neighborhoods. In 1974, HUD developed the Beekman Housing by renovating 38 pre-war apartment buildings into a privately-owned Section 8 housing project.

Over the next two decades, the Diego Beekman complex and the neighborhood fell into disrepair from owner and government disinvestment that destabilized and devastated the entire neighborhood. The community faced high levels of unemployment, failing public institutions, environmental challenges, and the significant loss of economic vitality when Lincoln Hospital, the Farberware plant, banking institutions, and other key manufacturing facilities closed.

Beginning in the early 1990s, residents began to organize to address the deteriorating conditions in the development. HUD took over Diego Beekman in 1996 and began the rehabilitation of the development, transferring ownership to the non-profit Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association in 2003. The Diego Beekman Board, a majority of which were (and are) tenants, financially stabilized the community, improved security, and aggressively addressed quality-of-life issues as well as maintenance and upkeep.  During this same time period, three hundred Nehemiah two-family homes were built on vacant lots surrounding Diego Beekman to further stabilize the neighborhood.

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