It’s been a big year for Cypress Hills. As 2016 begins, we’re reflecting on all the progress that we’ve achieved in the neighborhood, together with our many supporters and partners. While there are many things to celebrate from 2015, here are our top 5:
1. 114 new units of affordable housing on the horizon. After many years of work designing, financing and planning, we are thrilled to have closed on two new affordable housing developments: Senior Housing and Pitkin-Berriman. Senior Housing, where we broke ground in December, will provide 54 units of deeply affordable housing for senior citizens, specially designed to meet the specific lifestyle and service needs of its senior residents. The Pitkin-Berriman Housing Development will contain 60 units of affordable housing and will include a grocery store, bringing much needed healthy food access to the neighborhood. Construction on Senior Housing has begun and will begin soon for Pitkin-Berriman.
2. A new neighborhood farmers’ market. We opened the Pitkin Verde Farmers Market in July outside the East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center. The market has proved to be popular, providing easy access for people visiting the health center. This year, we also saw a 60% increase in sales at our Youth Market, a fresh produce market that employs neighborhood youth. All of this demonstrates that while Cypress Hills may be a food desert where diet-related health issues are prevalent, residents are indeed hungry for fresh, healthy produce.
3. Community mobilization around the rezoning. Over the past year, the City has led a process to rezone our neighborhood in order to build more housing. Unfortunately, their plan does not provide enough housing that is affordable for our community or sufficient protection for low-income renters, homeowners and small businesses. However, we have been inspired by the way the community has come together to make our voices heard and press for truly affordable housing and protections again displacing current residents. Hundreds of residents have expressed their support by coming to a rally, signing a petition, testifying at hearings, and more.
4. 210 students started college this fall. We’re especially proud that 65% of the students that were
accepted into college enrolled immediately after graduation, compared to 52% of low-income youth across the country. We helped these students in the college application process, and our staff will continue to support them through graduation with everything from maintaining financial aid to adjusting to college life to planning for their careers.
5. 22 local businesses committed to local hiring. Local employers have joined Cypress Hills Business Partners, a group of small businesses that commit to hiring locally. This is important for both strengthening small businesses in Cypress Hills and providing employment opportunities for neighborhood residents, which strengthens our local economy and makes our neighborhood a place where people can thrive.
Together we are making Cypress Hills a neighborhood of opportunity where community members thrive as leaders, attain educational and economic success and live in affordable housing. Thank you to everyone who makes this work possible as we head in to 2016!