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.
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Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman José E. Serrano (D-The Bronx) sent a letter along with Congresswomen Nydia M. Velázquez (NY), Stacey E. Plaskett (VI), Jenniffer González-Colón (PR), and 52 members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to do more to help federal student loan borrowers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that have been affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
“This is a first step in addressing the needs of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The funding provides short term assistance to the government of Puerto Rico and the federal government, allowing them to continue their relief and recovery efforts.
Washington, DC – Today, Representatives José E. Serrano (D-NY), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) led a letter to the Trump Administration’s Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine C. Duke – to express their concerns over reports of repeated violations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials of existing policies regarding enforcement at “sensitive locations” (i.e.
In Washington, DC
Congressman Serrano Leads Letter on Need for Comprehensive Emergency Supplemental for Puerto Rico
This week, Congressman José E. Serrano led a letter with 7 of his colleagues in support of a comprehensive relief and recovery effort by the federal government to help Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas, and Florida. The letter includes a number of important programs that must be funded in both the near and long term:
The Bronx – Congressman José E. Serrano, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Commerce Subcommittee, today announced that the Treasury Department Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) has awarded Spring Community Organization, a Bronx community development institution, a total of $930,405 in federal funds as part of its fiscal year (FY) 2017 round of grants.
In Washington, DC
Congressman Serrano Fight for Puerto Rico In the Aftermath of Hurricane Maria
Washington, DC –Congressman José E. Serrano today led eight Members of Congress in sending a letter to Secretary Price and Assistant Secretary Kadlec of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ask for an immediate increase in resources to address the emerging public health emergency in Puerto Rico. Serrano was joined on the letter by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, Congressman Darren Soto, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy.
Today, Congressman Serrano issued the following statement on Hurricane Maria and its impact on Puerto Rico:
September 20, 2017, BRONX, NY—Congressman José E. Serrano and Legal Services NYC are pleased to announce that Project Not Alone, a collaborative effort between Bronx Legal Services and Sauti Yetu Center for African Women & Families, has been awarded a competitive grant for continued funding to provide holistic legal and social services for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking in the Bronx.
The Bronx – Today, Congressman Serrano was joined by Former Mayor David Dinkins; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera; New York State Assemblyman Victor Pichardo; Councilmember Vanessa L. Gibson; and Bronx Postmaster Lilliam Rodriguez for the renaming ceremony of the Morris Heights Post Office, located at 2024 Jerome Avenue, in honor of Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr. The renaming was made possible thanks to Congressman Serrano and other members of the NY Delegation efforts in Congress last year.