THE POINT is working with Hunts Point community members to help them create the community they want to live in.
In recent decades, the South Bronx has endured socioeconomic disadvantage characterized by poverty, poor performing schools, high crime and incarceration rates and public health disparity. Much of these social issues can be traced to unjust policies that negatively impact low-income communities of color. THE POINT believes that Hunts Point young people and residents have the vision and ability to overcome these obstacles. The following describes the landscape for THE POINT’s environmental and social justice campaigns in the South Bronx:
In very real terms, Hunts Point forms a portrait of environmental racism. The peninsula bears a disproportionate amount of the region’s industrial infrastructure, with the majority of land zoned for heavy industrial use. Hunts Point has one of the highest concentrations of truck traffic in New York City. Already home to the largest produce market in the country, Hunts Point recently became the new location for the Fulton Fish Market, increasing daily truck traffic to upwards of 20,000 per day. There are over 15 waste transfer stations in the community as well as a number of waste related facilities such as the NYS Department of Environmental Protection’s wastewater treatment facility. Until recently Hunts Point had one of the smallest resident-to-parkland ratios while being surrounded by three major highway arteries – The Bruckner Expressway, the Cross Bronx Expressway and the Sheridan Expressway.
The families who visit THE POINT each week have only limited access to any fresh produce beyond the damages or “utility grade” fruits and vegetable found in small neighborhood stores. This fact is ironic since the neighborhood hosts the Untied States’ largest food distribution center – The Hunts Point Market – in addition to other markets such as the New Fulton Fish Market. In its December 2003 issue, Self Magazine illustrated this inequity by comparing produce retailes in Hunts Point with fruits and vegetables sold in other, more affluent areas.
Public health epidemics such as asthma, diabetes and obesity are the real life repercussions of the unjust environmental policies that confront low-income minority communities like Hunts Point. In his 2004 State of the Borough Address, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. stated the South Bronx has the highest obesity and diabetes rates in New York City. According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), 20 – 30% of school-aged children in the South Bronx have asthma, a rate twice as high as the New York City average. According to New York University’s 2006 South Bronx Environmental Health and Policy Study, high asthma rates in the Bronx can be attributed to air pollution caused by truck traffif and insutry in this area. Studies by the DOHMH also indicate a strong association between asthma hospitaliztion and socioeconomic conditions demonstrated by higher rates of asthma hospitalization among residents of low-income areas compared to residents of high-income areas.
In 2008, Advocates for Children listed Hunts Point as one of the highest riske areas for youth. According to The Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York, Inc. for th eyear 2006: In Hunts Point, 55.2% of children under 18 live below the poverty level and 26% receive public assistance, among the highest rates in NYC. The Bronx has the lowest high school graduation rate in NYC at 48.2%. In 2006, 396 youth between the ages of 16 and 20 were arrested on felony charges. This is nearly three times the number of youth felony arrests reported on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In 2005, Hunts Point had the highest rate of births to teen mothers in New York City at 16.1%. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported in 2006 that the Hunts Point and neighboring Mott Haven communities have disproportionately high rates of HIV diagnoses and people living with HIV/AIDS – nearly twice the overall rate of NYC.
THE POINT believes these numbers do not accurately reflect the potential and talent embodied in the Hunts Point community. Urban communities of color have the inherent capacity to challenge the marginalizing perceptions and socio-economic disparity affecting their neighborhoods. THE POINT is working with young people and their families to provide them the opportunity and support to redress social and environmental inequalities. This asset-based, justice oriented approach yields positive outcomes for both the youth and the community.