Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Bronx

The vibrant Bronx is a special place with great people, places and attractions. It has much to offer.

Congressman Serrano represents New York’s 15th Congressional District, loosely bounded by the Harlem, Bronx, and East Rivers on the west, south, and east, extending north up past Fordham Road. The District includes the neighborhoods of Mott Haven, Hunts Point, Melrose, High Bridge, Morrisania, East Tremont, Tremont, Morris Heights, University Heights, Belmont, Fordham, Bedford Park, West Farms, the Longwood Avenue Historic District, and parts of Soundview. Famous sites include Yankee Stadium , the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage , the magnificent Sanford White-designed Bronx Community College and its Hall of Fame of Great Americans Fordham University , Hunts Point’s vibrant The Point and its developing South Bronx Visitors Center, Bronx Borough Hall, the Grand Concourse Little Italy Arthur Avenue , the Bronx Museum of the Arts , and Roberto Clemente State Park . The district also abuts the world famous Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden .

Bronx old-timers remember the days when Presidents Roosevelt and Truman rode down 138th Street, when Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio knocked home runs out of Yankee Stadium, when Art Deco apartment buildings were built along the Grand Concourse, when shoppers thronged Tremont Avenue stores, and when Bronx County Democratic Chairman Ed Flynn was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. As early as the 1880’s, the Bronx (then known as the North side and only recently annexed from Westchester County) was linked to the level eastern half of Manhattan by elevated steam locomotives. But the borough really took off in 1906 with the arrival of the first subway, which allowed the children of immigrants to move from grim Lower East Side tenements to spacious walkup apartments flooded with light. The Bronx's population grew from 200,000 in 1900 to 430,000 in 1910—enough, had the bourough been independent, to rank as America’s sixth largest city—and 1.2 million in 1930. The Bronx's population peaked at nearly 1.5 million in 1950. But after a quarter-century of deterioration, the population shrunk to 1.2 million by 1990. Now it's up again, to 1.4 million in 2010, as new immigrants revive neighborhoods that had been given up for dead.

The borough began to struggle more in the 1960s. Rent control, insisted upon by tenants, meant that many owners of low-rent property wouldn't maintain it; once empty, many buildings were torched for the insurance money, sometimes as many as four blocks a week. At the same time, a drop in low-income, low-skill jobs in Manhattan and the Bronx led to a rise in welfare dependency and crime, with empty building shells becoming the perfect venue for drug dealing. And the 13-year, $250 million effort to build the Cross-Bronx Expressway --a brainchild of Robert Moses that crossed 113 streets and avenues, hundreds of utility mains and ten mass-transit lines--made things worse. As workers plowed through acres of tough bedrock, the project shredded entire neighborhoods, forcing 40,000 people to move from their homes and forever changing the landscape. In the upheaval, longtime residents left and an unfortunate cycle emerged: crime drove away jobs, which drove away fathers, which produced more crime.

Presidents and presidential candidates came in--Jimmy Carter in 1977, Ronald Reagan in 1980--promising help. Ironically, the South Bronx was never the worst slum in New York; it just looked the worst. The borough's saviors were churches and creative community groups which, without much centralized planning, built single-family pastel bungalows and small-scale apartment projects for the elderly, single-parent families and former homeless. With their help, the South Bronx has turned a corner. The building spree of the 1990s created the Bronx's first new wave of housing starts since the 1950s, and the first new cluster of private residences since the 1930s. While Bronx County still has the third-highest percentage of single mothers in America, and while rates of childhood asthma are among the nation's highest, low-income families in the Bronx are now finding it possible to work their way up. Local institutions such asBronx-Lebanon Hospital have helped, employing area residents and providing neighborhood stability. As immigrants from Ecuador, Ghana and Bangladesh settled in, the population once again rose; a few corners of the 15th District have even seen yuppies and artists colonizing old industrial space. Charlotte Street, which Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan once visited as the worst of the slums, is now Charlotte Gardens , with owner-occupied houses worth $180,000. As with other parts of New York City, one of the main challenges now for the 15th District is improving its commercial sector.

The 15th Congressional District includes all of the South Bronx. It is bounded by the  Harlem River on the west, the East River on the south, the Westchester Creek on the east, and goes up to Fordham University on the north. It includes the Parisian-style Grand Concourse, where single-family homes for the wealthy were replaced in the 1930’s by stylish Art Deco apartment buildings; this was one of America's biggest Jewish neighborhoods up through the 1960’s. It also includes , the Bronx "Little Italy" and site of an old-fashioned food market on Arthur Avenue; Belmont now has a growing number of Albanians. The 15th also includes the lower-rent commercial sections of Westchester Avenue, Boston Road and the Hub, and the flatlands of Bruckner Boulevard, Mott Haven and Hunts Point (including the meat and produce markets). The 15th is 35% black, 66% Hispanic--the highest percentage in any New York district. This has long been New York's largest concentration of Puerto Ricans, but an increasing proportion of Latinos here now are from other parts of Latin America, specifically from Dominican Republic. Politically, this was the most Democratic district in the country in 2012—96.7% for Barack Obama.

More on The Bronx

Aug 2, 2018 Press Release

Washington, DC Congressman José E. Serrano, Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced that Bronx Community College in the Bronx will receive $317,098 in funding to develop and offer new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses through the NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).

Jul 25, 2018 In The News

The city and Central Park Conservancy have announced that they’re planning to make substantial changes to the Lasker Pool and the surrounding area in an effort to make it easier to move through and enjoy the park, particularly for people from Harlem and East Harlem.

Jul 20, 2018 Press Release

Washington, D.C. –Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY) joined Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-05), Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and over 60 other members of Congress, doctors, nurses, and community activists, to launch the Congressional Medicare for All Caucus. The new caucus will bring together members committed to achieving a single-payer healthcare system to guarantee universal coverage for everyone in the country.

Jun 26, 2018 The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Congressman Serrano Speaks Out Against Family Separations on the Border 

Congressman Serrano spoke out against President Trump’s inhumane family separation policy during the Appropriations Committee Full Committee mark up ofthe FY2019 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. Congressman Serrano also became an original co-sponsor of the Keep Families Together Act,which has over 190 Democratic co-sponsors and no Republican support. The Keep Families Together Act would:

Jun 19, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON — House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee Ranking Member José E. Serrano (D-NY), Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Homeland Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) today sent a letter to their Republican counterparts demanding a hearing on the use of federal funds for the Trump administration’s family separation policy.

Jun 12, 2018 The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Congressman Serrano Expresses Concern Over Commerce Agreement with Chinese Company ZTE

Jun 8, 2018 In The News

The number of sites for the Bronx’s new jail, neccessitated by the phase out of Rikers Island, has expanded.

According to sources, the city intends to make a decision by the fall of this year.

Since February, two potential locations for the jail have been publicly identified - the NYPD tow pound on East 141st Street and Concord Avenue in Mott Haven and a vacant lot adjacent to the Bronx Criminal Court and Hall of Justice Complex on East 161st Street.

Jun 6, 2018 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman José E. Serrano (D-The Bronx) announced nearly $15 million in federal funding for three community health care centers in the South Bronx. Awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, the funding has been distributed as follows: $6,141,027 for United Health Care Inc.; $6,284,689 for Morris Heights Health Center; and $2,804,674 for Bronx-Lebanon Integrated Services System.

May 23, 2018 The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Congressman Serrano, Rep. Meng Introduce Amendment to Restrict Funding for Inclusion of Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

May 15, 2018 The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Serrano Questions Attorney General Sessions on Troubling DOJ Policies 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommitee to discuss the DOJ budget request for fiscal year 2019. During the hearing, Ranking Member Serrano questioned AG Sessions on troubling DOJ judicial performance evaluation policies that seem to seek to speed up the processing of immigrant cases.