The Cooper Square Committee’s mission is to work with area residents to contribute to the preservation and development of affordable, environmentally healthy housing and community/cultural spaces so that the Cooper Square area remains racially, economically and culturally diverse.
We Stopped the Bulldozers
In our early years we blocked the City’s plans to demolish the area from East 14th Street to Delancey Street between the Bowery and 2nd Avenue. We went up against New York’s power broker Robert Moses and kept hundreds of residents and businesses in place.
We created a Community Plan for Cooper Square
In 1970, New York City officially adopted our Alternative Cooper Square Plan that called for staged development, limited relocation, and no displacement of current residents.
We Fight For and Develop Affordable Housing
We’ve helped create hundreds of units of low-income housing in our community. In 1984, we developed 146 low-income apartments on Stanton Street. In 1985, we fought for 150 units of senior housing on the Bowery and East 5th Street. We made sure that 49% of the apartments were set aside for local residents.
In 1988, we sponsored the first co-op for formerly homeless families in the United States, a 22-unit co-op known as the Cube Building.
In 1991, we formed the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association (CSMHA), after winning an agreement from Mayor Dinkins’ Administration to turn over 20 city-owned tenement buildings in the Cooper Square Urban Renewal Area (CSURA) to non-profit management as low income housing. We also got the city to commit to renovating each of the buildings. In the mid-1990s, HPD transferred ownership of the buildings to the CSMHA, and by the early 2000s, each of the buildings had been renovated with new hardwood flooring, modern kitchens and 3-piece bathrooms instead of shared water closets in the hallways. In 2012, the NYS Attorney General’s office approved a multi-building coop offering plan, and over 85% of the residents became shareholders. CSMHA now manages nearly 400 low-income apartments in these buildings, mainly on East 3rd and 4th Streets between Second Avenue and the Bowery. We continue to work closely with the CSMHA by providing services to its tenants.
In 2008 we developed 54 units of supportive housing at 29 East 2nd Street.
In 2018, we completed an LGBT youth transitional housing project in partnership with the Ali Forney Center on 222 East 13th Street. We have maintained the partnership with Ali Forney Center and are continuing our work to support their mission of providing housing and services to homeless LGBT youth.
We Develop and Mobilize Community Leadership
We created the Bowery Residents Committee, started the Good Food Co-op, the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union and several block associations.
We Organize Tenant Associations
We help tenants get what they need. We have organized tenants in hundreds of buildings to help them negotiate with their landlords for repairs, fight rent overcharges, prevent evictions, and get Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Buildings to do inspections and record code violations.
We Bring Affordable Housing and Recreational Resources to Our Community
Our participation in the Cooper Square Task Force meant that what might otherwise have been blocks of luxury housing instead includes 764 units of mixed income housing, 231 of them low-income units. It also brought to the neighborhood a 42,000 sq. ft. community center with a gymnasium and swimming pool in Houston Street, jointly run by the YMCA and University Settlement, which opened its doors in 2006.
We Work to Keep the Arts Alive in Our Neighborhood
We were a catalyst for the formation of Fourth Arts Block (FAB) a cultural association on East 4th Street that succeeded in buying six buildings from HPD for cultural use in 2005. The Cooper Square Committee has worked closely with FAB to implement a Streetscape Design for East 4th Street to enhance the cultural and historic identity of the block.