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

Nov 9, 2018 Press Release

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than $372 million in assistance is available to help older adults and low- and middle-income New Yorkers heat their homes this winter. Applications for the Home Energy Assistance Program will be accepted by local departments of social services beginning on Tuesday, November 13.

Nov 9, 2018 Press Release

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray today announced two clinics in Puerto Rico will receive $200,000 to hire mental health professionals who will offer support to communities in Puerto Rico. The announcement follows through with a commitment made by the City in March to increase mental health services on the island as it continues recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, which swept through in September 2017.

Oct 16, 2018 Press Release

The Bronx –  Today, Tuesday October 16, Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY) will join other Bronx elected officials, local working families, and postal union workers to call for the reestablishment of affordable banking services inside postal offices in the Bronx and the rest of the country.

Oct 5, 2018 Press Release

Washington, D.C.Today, Congressman José E. Serrano announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the Bronx’s District Attorney office a total of $900,000 in funding.  Awarded through the DOJ’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-Based Program, this funding will ensure the Bronx DA can expand comprehensive opioid abuse treatment through the Overdose Avoidance Recovery (OAR) program, which allows low-level, non-violent offenders to access treatment instead of facing jail time.

Oct 3, 2018 Press Release

Washington, D.C.Today, Congressman José E. Serrano announced that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded $348,911 to Bronx Community College through the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Program. The CCAMPIS Program provides funding for child care on campus so low-income students with children do not have to miss class and can successfully complete their schooling.

Oct 1, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Congressman José E.

Sep 20, 2018 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman José E. Serrano, in commemoration of the passage of Hurricane Maria through Puerto Rico a year ago, Congressman Serrano introduced the COMPROMISO Act - the Continuing Our Mission in Puerto Rico to Optimize and Modernize Infrastructure and Sustain Obligations Act. Co-sponsored by Reps.

Sep 18, 2018 Press Release

Washington, D.C.As hurricane season is well underway and students return to school, Congressman José E. Serrano (D-The Bronx) led a letter, along with Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos following up on two previous letters to inquire about the status of federal disaster aid allocated to help displaced students and directly impacted institutions of higher education affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Sep 7, 2018 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman José E.

Sep 5, 2018 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman José E. Serrano today announced that CUNY Hostos Community College has been awarded $207,452 in funding for their project “Collaborative Research: RUI: Examining linkages between Agulhas Leakage and ocean overturning in the last glacial cycle and through the mid-Pleistocene transition.” The grant comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which supports efforts to better understand global oceans and ocean basins.