When Mid-Bronx Council (MBC) was founded in 1973, the Bronx was becoming a symbol of urban blight in America. Its commercial enterprise was in decline; its community services were shutting down and its housing stock was being decimated by arson and abandonment. Local and national leaders toured its streets and cited statistics on soaring crime, poverty and double digit unemployment levels to fully demonstrate the failure of the nation's urban policies.
Confronted with incredible challenges, Mid-Bronx Council emerged as one of the top non-profit, community development corporations in the region, considered the "Downtown Bronx". The agency supports and empowers residents of all ages through the provision of affordable housing, economic and workforce development, community organizing, as well as comprehensive services for children, youth, families and older adults.
In 1997, when the Bronx received the nation's oldest and most prestigious community award, All America City, the National Civic League acknowledged Mid-Bronx Council for its transformative work in helping to turn their borough into one of the nation’s top ten communities, a transformation so startling and profound, it is often called the "Bronx Miracle".
The Bronx is now outperforming the rest of New York City in employment gains and the number of businesses coming to the borough. Nearly 500 new companies have opened their doors in just the past eight years. The Bronx retail, service and financial business sectors are thriving. Since 1986, more than 30,000 housing units have been built or renovated in the Bronx and real estate values are rising steeply. Residents in revitalized neighborhoods are working together to turn vacant buildings into new housing and small businesses, vacant lots into beautiful gardens and in rebuilding their communities, they are creating a model for rebuilding America's decaying cities.
MBC was founded in 1973 by a small group of residents and community leaders who were inspired to provide direct services to the most disadvantaged – the elderly and disabled. Originally named, Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, our initial role was to coordinate efforts with other organizations to identify needs and ensure services for seniors in the Bronx. This community leadership role led to the creation of seven senior centers throughout the South Bronx. MBC next turned its attention to homebound seniors and in doing so, entered the world of service delivery. Our early programs included Project Homebound, developed in 1977 to provide meals, transportation, escorts, advocacy and case management to homebound elderly in order to prevent unnecessary institutionalization. This incredibly successful case-management program has been replicated throughout the city. Since that time, MBC has grown considerably to serve all ages and a broad range of area needs.
Beginning in the 1980s, MBC rehabilitated and developed over 27 buildings, receiving the prestigious New York State Distinguished Housing Service Award in 1986, one of only two recipients in New York City. We now provide more than 1300 affordable housing units for low-income families, the formerly homeless and seniors. In the 1990s, we partnered with the Surdna and Edna McConnell Clark Foundations on the Comprehensive Community Revitalization Program (CCRP) and the Neighborhood Partnership Initiative (NPI). These historic projects achieved ambitious goals and inspired community-wide collaborations, allowing us to directly engage residents and stakeholders in visioning and planning for the area. Our Neighborhood Plan received the Presidential Award from the American Planning Association.
Their impact include:
In 1997 MBC opened a "one-stop" Family Preservation Center in the lower lobby of the Andrew Freedman located at 1125 Grand Concourse - Bronx, NY 10452. Here, we provide key support services, alongside quality, affordable child care. In 2004, MBC opened the first of two community technology centers to help bridge the “digital divide” in this area, by offering computer literacy training to residents. The second technology center opened in 2005.
MBC was the lead organizer for the local movement that advocated for resident inclusion in the planning for the new Yankee Stadium, the new waterfront retail center called the Bronx Gateway Center and the new Bronx Criminal Court, resulting in many community amenities, such as green spaces, improved air quality, funding for a new child care center and the creation of more local jobs. Community stakeholder participation was mandatory to ensure that long time residents and local businesses were not displaced, but well integrated into these revitalization projects and MBC played a key role in the outcome.
As part of these efforts, MBC along with the 161st St. Merchants Association, successfully concluded a ten year effort to create a 161st Street Business Improvement District (BID), the city’s 51st BID and only the sixth BID in the Bronx.