Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc.’s Healthy Communities Initiative was established ten years ago to create new and improved healthy food outlets and venues for our residents. This initiative provides numerous benefits including increasing access to healthy and affordable food, raising awareness about healthy lifestyle choices, and building individual capacity to make their own using healthier choices. In doing so, residents are primed with healthy living alternatives for the community while educating residents and the community at large on nutrition and healthy food options.
The program builds community, helps restore the social fabric (including through intergenerational connections), and increases the distribution of healthy foods (some grown locally), reducing our carbon footprint. The program also mobilizes residents to work against barriers to community health while spurring new opportunities for creativity and entrepreneurship. Much of the program activities occur in connection to our four garden sites in the South Bronx. These sites include Kelly Street Garden in Longwood, College Avenue Garden of Hope in Mott Haven, Bryant Avenue Garden in Hunts Point, and 970 Prospect Ave Garden near our main office located at 863 Prospect Avenue, Bronx. At these sites, we organize numerous events, cooking demonstrations, activities, and community meetings on larger health-related issues.
The program also provides access to support services to residents such as health screenings, enrollment in health-related programs, and implemented a comprehensive neighborhood outreach and awareness campaign, especially during the time of COVID.
Our initiative included a key partnership with the New York Common Pantry, which opened a pantry in 2017. The pantry was located in our Longwood neighborhood and had a mobile van that traveled throughout the area. This partnership and mobile pantry allowed us to distribute tens of thousands of meals to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and continuing through today.Read More
Energy Savings Program
Within each of our buildings, we have installed a state-of-the-art heat (and electrical use) monitoring system designed and produced by Heat Watch. The Heat Watch System monitors and regulates temperatures resulting in sufficient savings for our residents in buildings that allow billing by actual usage.
Mobile Credit Union Van
Partnering with 3 other local community development corporations and with the Lower East Side People’s Credit Union, Banana Kelly launched a mobile van bringing the opportunity to join a credit union directly to the residents of our community. Our South Bronx community has a long history of limited access to banks, forcing our residents to utilize other methods of banking such as check cashing businesses to pay bills, obtain money orders and case checks.
Working with Webster Bank and the Lower East Side People’s Credit Union we are providing the opportunity for our residents to create and manage their financial health. Since we began last year we have provided information and literature to hundreds of residents, with dozens opening bank accounts.
Stabilizing NYC is a citywide coalition that combats the loss of affordable housing units at the hands of predatory equity companies and defends low-income residents in predatory equity buildings from harassment and eviction. This coalition consists of 17 grassroots organizations from across the five boroughs, a research organization, and a legal services provider.
Our work combines legal, advocacy, and organizing resources into a citywide network to help residents take their predatory equity landlords to task for patchwork repairs, bogus eviction cases, and affirmative harassment. Banana Kelly specifically will provide the organizing and administrative expertise in our South Bronx community and to the larger Stabilizing NYC coalition.
Furthermore, we continue to organize in local buildings threatened by predatory equity investments where tenants face harassment, increasing rents, and untenable conditions. Thanks to funding from the City Council initiative, in 2022 we made progress working with tenants to win repairs and fight back against rent increases in numerous buildings over the past three years, such as 769 Bryant Ave, 1057 Hoe Ave, 1202 Spofford Ave, 741-743 Hunts Point Ave, 1134 West Farms Road, and 810 Ritter Avenue.
We are also part of the larger citywide Stabilizing NYC Coalition partnering in this broader fight with groups across the city. The $3 million requested in total will be divided among the Stabilizing NYC organizations to support legal, research, and organizing staff for this effort.