NY1's "Making Census Of It" series continues this week with a spotlight on the Bronx, the borough that experienced the largest growth in the city in the 2010 U.S. Census. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
It was once a picture of ruin and rubble. In the 1970s and ‘80s, a wave of arson and abandonment spread throughout the South Bronx , fueling a sharp decline in population, with some areas losing as much as two thirds of their residents.
Decades later, the 2010 census found it to be one of the fastest growing regions in the city. In the past 10 years, the neighborhood areas of Melrose, Morrisania and Mott Haven absorbed more than 14,000 residents.
“These were areas that were devastated in the 70s and really, the city has invested a lot of time and energy with rezonings and investment in affordable housing to make sure these neighborhoods could come back,” said Carol Samol of the Department of City Planning. “And overall, we knew that these numbers were right.”
The nonprofit organization Nos Quedamos, or “we stay,” is not surprised by the growth. It was founded by a group of residents and business owners who did not want to abandon the South Bronx during its period of decline. It provides social services and has played an instrumental role in the redevelopment of the area.
“It is the vision and the inspiration of being able to look outside the box and look beyond the crumbling facade and the ashes,” said Jessica Celemente, the interim executive director of Nos Quedamos.
While the city believes the census numbers to be mostly accurate, some in the community think otherwise.
Clemente says about 10 to 12 percent of the population has not been counted.
“You have a large number of undocumented immigrants that come here to find a better way of life that are really pretty difficult to be able to locate,” said Clemente.
Growing numbers also mean growing needs in the community.
“With what we had prior, we were still struggling to provide adequate resources to the community, so we have to be able to plan and anticipate for this growth moving forward, because I don’t think this will be the end,” said Clemente.