The day was gray but the smiles of the new homeowners lit up the
South Bronx Highbridge neighborhood as they welcomed the HUD "Homeownership
Express" to New York City.
The Express visited a townhome development now under construction.
The new homes - 18 of which are expected to be completed this
summer - will soon be welcoming families to an area of the
Bronx that had once been dominated by vacant lots and abandoned
buildings. Once completed, the neighborhood will include a total
of 60 new two-family houses built on land formerly owned by the
The development is unique in that many of the families are first-time
homebuyers purchasing a two-family house who will not only be providing
a new home for themselves, but renting the other unit to a low-income
"Our country is personified right here in this New York City neighborhood,"
said Secretary Martinez. "Having the rental concept and the homeownership
concept side by side is not only building homeownership - it
is also building the community."
During a morning ceremony that brought together new homeowners
with representatives from the City of New York, New York State,
and the private and nonprofit-sector partners who are making the
Highbridge development a reality, Secretary Martinez presented a
ceremonial key to the new homeowners on which was written "Homeownership:
Creating Housing for the Next Generation."
In a nod to that "next generation" and to the delight of the crowd,
the Secretary picked up little Liz Marie Lee, the daughter of new
homeowner Luisa Lee, and told the crowd, "This is our day to recognize
you, salute you, and celebrate your empowerment."
The visit also included a tour through the home of Angel Irizarry,
another new homeowner who is eager to move in to his new house.
In his remarks, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., spoke
passionately about the powerful impact of homeownership on his own
parents, who emigrated to the U.S. from Puerto Rico in the 1950s.
"They came with a little change in their pockets and a lot of dreams,"
he said. "In 1969, they bought their first row house for $28,000.
They built equity, and from there they bought another house in Rockland
County. That other house was a little more - maybe closer to
$200,000. Just recently, Mom and Dad built a half-a-million-dollar
home. That's what this is all about. It's ultimately about giving
people an opportunity."
Joining in today's celebration were New York State Division of
Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Judith Calogero, New
York City Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, New York City Department of
Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Jerilyn Perine,
Highbridge Community CDC President Monsignor Donald Sakano, HUD
Assistant Secretary Roy Bernardi, and Naomi Bayer of Fannie Mae.