South Bronx Unite is an all-volunteer coalition of South Bronx residents, organizations and allies working together to improve and protect the social, environmental and economic future of the Mott Haven-Port Morris section of the South Bronx, a peninsula completely surrounded by highways, fossil fuel power plants, waste transfer stations, subsidized diesel truck-intensive facilities and an 850 acre significant maritime industrial area, the largest in New York City and a significant portion of which is public land.
The local AMI is $22,471; 49% of our children live in poverty; our asthma rate is eight times the national average; and we have the lowest rates per capita of access to green space (and no waterfront access at all). Rather than assistance and efforts to mitigate the life threatening impact of environmental injustice, our community continues to receive the fallout of windfall corporate subsidies incentivizing diesel truck-intensive business to relocate to our community (e.g., FreshDirect), renewal of permits to operate (what was supposed to be temporary) four fossil fuel power plants (New York Power Authority), and increase to the capacity handled at two waste transfer stations along our waterfront, and no storm surge mitigation plan for our toxic, industry-lined, waterfront despite plans put forth by the community in collaboration with a range of universities, including MIT, UPenn, and Pratt, among others), and a New York State prioritized (but non-implemented) Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan.
At the same time, the Mott Haven/Port Morris neighborhood lies just outside of Manhattan – a target of developers seeking to profit off of the wave of gentrification sweeping New York City. At present there are more than two dozen new developments planned (with building permits in hand) for the community, including hotels and market rate luxury rentals touting indoor swimming pools and rent requirements seven times the local average salary. Rising rents threaten to push out long-time residents and have disrupted the network of grassroots organizations providing health services, supporting young people and families, and creating economic opportunities for the people who call the Mott Haven/ Port Morris community home.
It is for these reasons that our work centers on (1) environmental justice, (2) a newly formed community land trust and (3) a development watch.