Building A Better Harlem
Leadership in Vision
As we prepare to celebrate over three decades of service
to our beloved community, Harlem Congregations
for Community Improvement, Inc. (HCCI), its Board
of Directors, and staff move confidently into the future
continuing the work to improve Harlem and surrounding
New York City neighborhoods. Governed by a committed
and dedicated volunteer Board of Directors, the spectrum
of leadership required to carry on with its work is in place
and I proudly exclaim that we envision our next three decades
expanding opportunities for Harlem residents.
Established in 1986, the initial goal for HCCI was to
spark a renaissance of the Bradhurst neighborhood. At
the time, Harlem was redlined, blacklisted, and left to
deteriorate in the hopelessness of drugs, poverty, disinvestment,
crime, and despair. Despite the awfulness
of these conditions, our faith leaders considered them
temporary and presented a call to action to churches
and other houses of worship to work toward change
that would improve our community.
Called to begin a process of renewal, a small group
of visionaries set out a plan. A visionary organization is
one that paves the way for future generations. HCCI’s
accomplishments in its 32-year history exemplify
Leadership in Business
HCCI’s many contributions to the Village of Harlem are
documented. In the community development arena alone,
HCCI has exceeded all predicted results and generated
more than $200 million in operating revenues, as well as
a capitalization of affordable housing investments amounting
to more than $350 million. We currently manage over
1.75 million square feet of real estate in Harlem.
Our property portfolio includes over 60 retail stores
where landmark venues reside such as Settepani, Chocolat,
Vinateria, Sexy Taco, ESO Harlem, Peque Vino,
Popeyes 145th, Pathmark 145th, Raw Space, Grandma’s
Toys, Mia’s Bathhouse for Pets, Silicon Harlem at HCCI
Bradhurst, Mount Sinai-St. Luke’s Clinic, the Victoria
Theater Housing Development Fund Corp 125th Project,
and many more. These kinds of investments clearly demonstrate
HCCI’s commitment and promise of community
partnership with public, private, and small businesses and
its unchallenged benefit to the Harlem community and
In 2016, we launched the HCCI Small Business
Institute to promote entrepreneurship.The SBI seminar
provides the tools to start and operate a small business.
More than 100 prospective business owners participate
in evening technical instruction, and we are pleased to
announce many of the participants have taken the next
steps and realized their dream of business ownership.
HCCI incubated the Bradhurst Merchants Association,
Inc., a membership trade organization located in
the Bradhurst Urban Renewal Area. The goal of the
BMA is to improve business conditions in the target area
including sanitation, lighting, streetscape, and nuisance
reduction. The 50-member BMA holds monthly meetings
at HCCI offices.
Leadership in Housing
In 32 years, HCCI has created an 80-building affordable
housing portfolio that yields more than 3,000 units
of affordable housing along with many homeownership
apartments. In the area of real estate construction and
preservation, in the last 10 years HCCI has successfully
preserved more than 1,500 apartments in collaboration
with New York City Department of Housing Preservation
and Development (HPD), New York State Housing
and Community Renewal (HCR), and U.S. Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) housing preservation programs.
In our affordable housing preservation strategy,
HCCI has maintained its commitment to long-term Harlem
residents by entering into 40-year regulatory agreements
with federal, state, and local housing agencies to
continuously preserve affordable housing and build new
affordable housing units.
In 2018, we completed the rehabilitation of a 10-unit
affordable cooperative apartment building located on
East 129th Street. It is my stated promise that under my
stewardship HCCI will continue on its path of preserving
and rehabilitating affordable housing so that Harlem
residents know they can live in this community without
fear of being priced out.
Current projects include:
• Three brownstones in the Marcus Garvey Park historic
district with a target completion date of 2021.
• 75-unit Harlem affordable housing rehabilitation with a
target completion date of fall 2020.
• 125-unit Harlem senior housing project with a target
completion date of Spring 2021.
• 45-unit Newark, New Jersey with a target completion
date of summer 2022.
HCCI’s homeownership program serves the low- to
middle-income housing sector providing proven strategies
to homeownership opportunities. Our team of
HUD certified housing counselors supported by our financial
partners have tutored over 2,500 households to
realize the American dream of homeownership. HCCI
has dedicated considerable effort to making homeownership
available for existing residents and newcomers.
Leadership in Social Services
The HCCI office of Health and Wellness Strategies
(HWS) exists to improve the holistic wellness of the Harlem
community and provides the most comprehensive and
diversified spectrum of care possible through education,
support services, referrals, and partnerships. HWS attempts
to affect individual attitudes and norms by utilizing the
institutions that community members already trust,
namely faith-based groups and houses of worship. HCCI
works with these institutions to deliver an inspirational,
motivational message that promotes the importance of
wellness and affirms behavior that leads to wellness.
A cadre of social workers provides case management
services to formerly homeless households, including
individuals with HIV/AIDS, households with a history
of chronic homelessness, senior housing, youth aging
out of foster care, daycare, and afterschool programs.
Workforce services, including employment referrals,
are offered, as are wellness programs such as nutrition,
cooking demonstrations, and health clinics in partnership
with area hospitals. Our case management services
are available to over 3,000 HCCI resident households
and all other community members.
This article presents a brief outline of our accomplishments.
However, as we continue to impact our
community in ways that uplift, improve, and strengthen
it, we appeal to our partners, supporters, and benefactors
to continue to contribute to our vision for the future
of Harlem. There is no contribution too small or
too great. Your support enables us to achieve measurable
accomplishments that revitalize our community,
not only economically, but environmentally as well.
Finally, I offer the most sincere thanks to The
Reverend Dr. Charles A. Curtis, Ed.D., pastor of the
iconic Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem for
his 23 years of dedicated service including 10 years as
HCCI Board Chair. Rev. Curtis’ firm and steady leadership
is greatly admired and appreciated by the entire
staff. We welcome Dr. Joan O. Dawson, Ph.D. as our
newly-elected Board Chair. Dr. Dawson is an organizational
expert and intellectual master. We look forward
to her insight, her managerial acumen, and her
solution-based approach to corporate governance.
Together we continue on our mission of building a