In August of 1978 a small group of Fordham Bedford residents attended a meeting to discuss housing at Our Lady of Refuge Church (OLR). There, meetings were being held several times a week about the problem of housing deterioration and abandonment in our Northwest Bronx neighborhood. At one particular meeting, residents developed the idea to form their own organization to face this housing crisis. During this time, the Bronx was being destroyed by arson and abandonment at a frightening pace. In one 70’s winter, Morris Heights, a nearby neighborhood, lost 50 apartment buildings to abandonment. Thousands of homes were being destroyed and the fiber of many Bronx communities was literally in flames.
Residents of the Fordham Bedford area were concerned. The City of New York took ownership of several local buildings because of unpaid taxes. Banks refused to issue new mortgages, even on stable, profitable buildings. Tenants were seeking relief from deterioration in Bronx Housing Court and administrators were being appointed by the Court to try to save threatened buildings. Locally, fires had engulfed a few small apartment buildings and a growing number of wood-frame private homes. Our community stood at a crossroads. Tenant and community leaders who met during that summer decided to take small but important steps toward finding a solution.
They began to explore ways to bring new private and public resources into the housing stock. To put these ideas and resources into action and help tenants save their homes, they decided to create a community-sponsored housing company. This new company would not only provide technical assistance but would also take over ownership of properties headed for abandonment. It took 18 months to incorporate Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation. It immediately took title to its first building on 194th Street. Six months later, FBHC obtained a grant from the Campaign for Human Development along with funds from the now defunct federal CETA program to hire staff. The two years of volunteer efforts to stave off housing abandonment set the direction of FBHC that continues today.
Now an established non-profit community organization, Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation owns or manages over 100 properties in the Northwest Bronx, providing safe and affordable housing to over 3,000 Bronx families.