She recounted her early days of working in the neighborhood, which was markedly different from the work that she is doing now.
“In the 70’s and 80’s, abandonment was a big issue in this neighborhood,” said Cordero. “New shelters were opening, hospitals were closing, and a lot of buildings were damaged or abandoned. St. Nick’s and other groups came in to try and stabilize the community.”
After a small real estate boom in the mid-90’s and an even bigger one after the turn of the century, the neighborhood has become more stable, but the current wave of development presents its own set of problems, many of which are not so different than the ones that Cordero and other activists worked to overcome in the previous two decades.
“In the mid-90’s, gentrification began to impact the neighborhood, and there were a lot of people being pushed out.”
According to Cordero, today’s real estate market is causing many longtime residents, and even not-so-longtime residents to become displaced, either through eviction, increasing rents, or landlord pressure.
“People are being pushed out, and the recent rezoning accelerated a lot of the construction,” she said. “We’ve got a new condo on every corner.”
In order to maintain the neighborhood’s economic, social and ethnic diversity, Cordero and others at St. Nick’s work with other groups to seek policy changes, organize tenants, and spread information about renters and owner’s rights. She also offers counseling for individuals or groups that have been victims tenant harassment or eviction.
If you could use the assistance of St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corp, log on to their website.