Housing and Gangs Make for a Volatile Environment

Development in the Bronx during the nineteen sixties and early seventies is a bit of an oxymoron. There was plenty of the contrast in part due to lack of government funding leading to crumbling urban areas, lack of employment and imminent domain relocation as a result of projects like the Cross Bronx Expressway. Gang activity was rampant. Growing up in these dilapidated communities, many youth felt that joining a gang was a way to make up for what they lacked. They joined to surround themselves with people who cared and as well as for protection. The community members were mostly poor Hispanics, African American and Jews. They felt mistreated by the government and police and their needs continued to go unfulfilled. Rebuilding was not a government priority. All of these issues combined to form a very volatile and unpleasant environment in the Bronx.

The imminent domain relocating due to the Cross Bronx Expressway uprooted over 60,000 families who for the most part were not wealthy and had difficulty finding housing. The Housing project that began to spring up were to provide haven for these families but in reality perpetuated the housing segregation of social classes by grouping low income Blacks and Hispanics together.

Because of no real government assistance or talk of rebuilding, the gangs took it upon themselves to organize, help the community and voice their opinions for their many causes. They organized things such as clothes drives and soup kitchens. They also policed their own neighborhoods, chasing out the ever-growing number of drug addicts who were the main source of crime. The gangs were the lifeline that kept the communities afloat through these tough times.