Housing

Tenants’ Return to Rehabbed, Preserved Birthplace of Hip Hop

1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Bronx was not your average building purchased by a speculative real estate investor in the housing crisis aftermath. It's known as the birthplace of hip […]

1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Bronx was not your average building purchased by a speculative real estate investor in the housing crisis aftermath. It's known as the birthplace of hip hop, for the parties thrown in its rec room by DJ Kool Herc starting in 1973.

But when speculators descended, it was also in very real danger of becoming another example of long-time affordable housing in an improving area lost. Shelterforce wrote about that struggle in 2011.

Happily, the plan the tenants were holding their breath about when we last covered the fight came through. Affordable housing developer Workforce Housing Associates was able to foreclose on the predatory equity owner and assemble the financing to completely rehab the neglected building while keeping it affordable to tenants at 60-70 percent of area median income.

“Today we celebrate an important victory against predatory equity,” said Kerri White, director of organizing and policy at the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, which helped the tenants organize, at the celebration of the completion of renvoations on Sept. 27. “The tenants of 1520 Sedgwick began organizing to prevent a speculative real estate deal that threatened building conditions and the affordability of their homes. When that campaign was lost, the tenants refused to be harassed or to settle for neglectful maintenance, choosing rather to keep fighting for their community. We are grateful to supporters like Senator Schumer, Congressman Serrano, HPD, DJ Kool Herc, Workforce Housing Advisors and most importantly the residents of 1520 Sedgwick, for being an inspiration to all NYC tenants in the fight to preserve affordable housing.”

 

Photo: Front row (left to right): Geraldine Davis, Gloria Robinson, Mary Fountain (all 1520 Sedgwick Ave Tenants Assn)

 

Back row (left to right): John Murnane (Erin Construction), Jack Coogan (OCV Architects), Kevin Gallagher (WFHA), Andy Reicher (UHAB), John Crotty (WFHA), Mathew Wambua (Former HPD Commissioner), Ruben Diaz (Bronx BP), Roy Swan (Morgan Stanley), Rafael Cestero (CPC President), DJ Kool Herc, Anthony Jordan (Cong Serrano’s office), Cindy Campbell, RuthAnne Visnauskas (HPD Commissioner), Vanessa Gibson (Assemblymember)

Related Articles

  • Illustration of a right hand holding a small red two-dimensional house between thumb and index finger. The hand is dark blue and the arm, shown a bit beyond the wrist, is wearing a white shirt and suit jacket. The background of the image is a city skyline, in lighter shades of the same blue, with puffy clouds above.

    Ownership Matters: Institutional Investors and Corporate Ownership

    May 23, 2024

    Who owns our homes is an absolutely essential part of housing policy, and an even greater part of housing politics.

  • A Black woman in blue flowered dress and dusty pink hijab speaks into several microphones. In foreground, blurry, are news cameras. The woman is part of a large group at a rally, carrying signs promoting rent stabilization and saying "Home to Stay MPLS"

    Affordable Housing Sector Split on Rent Control

    May 21, 2024

    In the Twin Cities, where voters have recently supported rent control, most nonprofit housing developers have stayed silent, and some have openly lined up with the developers and landlords who oppose it.

  • Seven people wearing jackets and caps on a city sidewalk holding signs that say "Listen to UREB," "Save Our Homes," "Negotiate with UREB," or "5,000 Against Displacement." One person is speaking into a microphone. At the curb by the speaker is a van with WRLC painted on the side, for Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

    Nonprofit to Close Mobile Home Community to Build a Park

    May 10, 2024

    Ohio’s largest conservation land trust has been accused of purchasing a manufactured housing community with the very intention of closing it, evicting more than 100 households in the process. But proponents of the park’s closure say the land's failing infrastructure—and the benefit the property will bring to an entire city—is what forced the decision.