By Caleb Wendling
Affordable and safe housing remains an elusive dream for many New Yorkers. Rising rent prices, scarcity of units, and decaying units have diminished the quality of life for many residents on the fringes of society. Organizations such as Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC) are working to change that. The corporation was formed in 1980 as a property owner management group with the specific aim of improving deteriorating housing stock and renting units at affordable prices in the Bronx. Today the corporation exists as a non-profit, overseeing 130 buildings primarily aimed at low-income and homeless tenants.
Behind the buildings, a dedicated team works to handle the complex operations inherent in the real estate sector. This past fall, I had the privilege to intern with the Development team at FBHC. The Development team connects with every facet of FBHC including financing, construction, grant proposals, and tenant records. Through my work with the team, I have gained exposure to the intricacies of how FBHC provides affordable housing. I have also learned how city departments such as Housing Preservation & Development interact with tenants and affordable housing groups like FBHC.
While my work takes place behind a computer screen, I have also developed a broader understanding of the Bronx community where I live. FBHC does not just look to provide affordable housing. They also partner with groups such as Fordham Bedford Community Services to promote tenant engagement and community development. These critical services frequently involve other community actors such as local artists, schools, and other social service providers. From discussions with their team, I have come to know better many of the vibrant communities of the Bronx and the wide array of individuals working to a better life for all residents in the borough. As an outsider to the Bronx, I feel my work at FBHC has given me a deeper appreciation of the borough, its challenges, and the many individuals working to overcome them.