Bronx Comm. Center Keeps Hope Alive During Downturn
During the past week’s financial meltdown, all eyes were on Wall Street, and few talked about the impact on low-income communities in the Bronx. NY1’s Cheryl Wills filed the following story.
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Burnside Avenue in University Heights, Bronx is about 25 miles north of Wall Street, but merchants along this busy thoroughfare are really feeling the pressure as the economy nose dives.
"The economy is really being hit hard here, although we are surviving," said President Ubaldo Santos of the Merchants Association.
Angel Caballero is doing his best to keep struggling businesses in this area afloat during these tough times.
As the executive director of the Davidson Community Center, Caballero says mom-and-pop stores in the Bronx are basically on life support.
"Oh, they're having a hard time because things are so expensive. Con Edison bills are number one," said Caballero.
It may seem odd that a small community center would be the glue holding local commerce together. But for the last 40 years, volunteers have been trying to turn their crime-plagued neighborhood around, but they say the current economy has many residents on the ropes as the foreclosure and jobless rates increase.
"Some of the stores have to let the personnel go,” said Aida Martinez of the Davidson Community Center. “[They say,] ‘I was working around the corner and they had to let me go because no one's shopping anymore.’"
In the community center, a group of young people are keeping the faith. The community center is a haven for teenagers who resist the lure of the fast life on the streets and it’s paying off.
Next month, a group called "Universal Crew" will perform at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.
Even for young folks, the economy is a hot-button issue.
"The prices are definitely going up, a lot of people getting unemployment checks. A lot of people are unemployed, a lot of people are getting laid off. I think the economy is getting worse," said recording artist Darryl Harris.
"These young people that come in here, they do performing arts, they do dance, they bring their friends, family and we keep our doors open sometimes until 9, 10 o'clock at night to keep them off the streets," said Paul Bryant of Davidson.
Volunteers with the Davidson Community Center say keeping young people off the streets during these tough times won't be easy, but they're in it for the long haul.