The Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) was forged in the fires of the early 1970s.
Through redlining, a practice of creating color-coded maps to indicate the desirability of neighborhoods based on racial composition, the federal government and banks began diverting investments from low-income communities of color toward mixed-income white communities. This practice led to racial segregation, devastating places like the Bronx, where landlords couldn’t get financing to make large scale renovations or sell their properties. Instead, many owners looking to get a return on their investment turned to arson to recoup fire insurance money. Consequently, flames engulfed entire neighborhoods, leaving families homeless and businesses destroyed in their wake.
The peak level of arson in the mid 1970s coincided with the loss of manufacturing jobs and the fiscal crisis of New York City. This led to the slashing of vital support services, including fire departments. Expressways tore apart vibrant commercial and residential neighborhoods, and expedited the flow of people and goods to the growing suburbs. As a result, while suburbs around the Bronx were blooming, the Bronx was burning.
Clergy leaders and tenants responded to this crisis by harnessing the power of organized community to hold decision-makers accountable and bring about new creation. In 1974, clergy, students, and community members from all backgrounds joined together to birth the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) and stop the devastating sweep of arson and abandonment.
Building by building, block by block, we created a powerful network of tenant associations that stopped landlords’ arson-for-profit schemes. We coalesced with people’s organizations across the country to pass the Community Reinvestment Act, which mandates banks and the federal government to reinvest in the communities they had devastated. From the ashes, we leveraged local leadership and vision to build non-profit, community-centered housing corporations that have safeguarded and expanded affordable housing for decades.
As the Bronx has evolved, so has NWBCCC, but we still carry on our founding legacy of resistance and resurrection.
In 1999, young people from the Bronx created our youth organization, Sistas and Brothas United (SBU), with the knowledge that “where the youth lead, the world follows.” Over the years, we have fought for affordable and energy-efficient housing; quality public schools where students can learn with dignity; safe and healthy communities; community-lead economic development; immigrant rights, and much more.
Additionally, we have founded non-profit housing corporations and research institutions, designed and opened schools, and negotiated historic development projects. We have also formed coalitions to legislate justice on the local, state, and federal level.
Our work always begins with meeting everyday people where they are at—in their homes, schools, streets, and places of work or worship—to come together to win concrete changes and develop long-terms solutions around the issues that impact their lives.
Today, we maintain a deep commitment to racial justice, intergenerational organizing, and community ownership in all we do. Whose Bronx? Our Bronx! Join our efforts—learn more here.