The Cooper Square Committee, located in the East Village/Lower East Side of Manhattan, has an exciting opportunity to purchase a loft space in our building and use it to strengthen our community – but we need your help. In this new community space, we plan to expand our housing organizing and senior programs. We’re currently renting the space with an option to buy it in 2023. We have funding commitments totaling $250,000 towards the $310,000 purchase price. We’re crowdfunding to raise the remaining $60,000.
If you don’t know about our work, here’s some background:
We are the oldest community-based tenant rights organization in New York City. We saved our section of the Lower East Side from the “slum clearance” wrecking ball in the 1960s and created one of the first community-based alternative urban renewal plans adopted by the City in 1970. We’ve sponsored the renovation and development of over 600 low-income apartments since the mid-1980s, including family housing, special needs housing for people with psychiatric disabilities (2008) and homeless LGBT young adults (2018), and created the largest residential community land trust in NYC in the 1990s. In addition, we’ve organized hundreds of tenant associations, prevented thousands of evictions, pioneered a multi-building mutual housing cooperative, and joined the statewide tenant rights movement in strengthening the rent laws and tenant protections against lead exposure and unsafe building renovations.
Today, we have a team of tenant organizers working on multiple tenant rights campaigns. We’re organizing hundreds of tenants to fight back against “construction as harassment,” warehousing of rent-stabilized apartments, and illegal hotels. Our Small Business Assistance Program is helping hundreds of East Village merchants organize for commercial rent protections, referring them to free commercial lease assistance and business counseling, and supporting their marketing campaigns. Our Senior Program is helping over 250 seniors a year with accessing benefits and providing social and recreational opportunities.
We’ve been fortunate to grow our staff and our programs in recent years, despite the challenges of Covid-19. As we emerge from this pandemic and begin to hold in-person group meetings and events, this new space creates an opportunity to rebuild the social cohesion frayed by the pandemic.
Here are just of few of the reasons we're asking for your help to create this new community space in the LES.
Make space for seniors to age with dignity. As part of our Senior Program, we plan to launch a senior day program this Spring where local seniors can gather with the appropriate Covid-19 protocols, socialize, attend workshops on health, legal and financial topics, and take art classes taught by local artists. Our Visiting Nurse program will use the space one day per week for appointments.
Build tenant power. Prior to COVID-19, our team of five full-time Tenant Organizers often had several meetings taking place the same night at various locations in the neighborhood due to the lack of meeting space in our main office. As we start meeting in person again, this new space will allow us to bring together more tenants and coalitions to meet and strategize.
Rebuild the community fabric. CSC also plans to use the space for community events like Friday night films or bingo and weekend events like children’s birthday parties for low-income community residents, or occasional open mic nights. We also envision using the space for visual art exhibitions. Over the coming months, we plan to build out our community programming. We welcome your involvement in our planning efforts.
Every contribution helps us bring this dream to reality.
Thank you for your support!