BX neighborhood rises out of ashes, offers housing

MELROSE - New York?s agencies are investing additional funds in one South Bronx neighborhood to provide more affordable housing for low-income families.

Yolanda Irizarry remembers growing up in Melrose in the 1970s, when the neighborhood was dotted by abandoned lots and burning buildings. Now, the area that once looked like a battlefield is lined up with new three-family homes and affordable housing apartment buildings.

Irizarry, who has bought a house in the area she knows from childhood, is excited about the new developments.

?At one time, all the buildings in this area were burnt,? she recalls. ?There was nothing around here and now we?re trying to beautify the neighborhood.

Recently, it has been reported that another development called Courtland Corners I and II will go up in Melrose. The two apartment complexes will be erected on a lot at 161st Street, between Courtland and Melrose avenues.

When completed, the development will include a total of 323 units, 22,000-square feet of retail space and some 50 parking spaces intended for low- to middle-income families.

Local residents say it is about time.

?The affordable housing is taking a lot of people out of the shelter system and I think it's a very good idea,? says Fred Muldrow.

However, while city agencies continue to invest more money in revitalizing Melrose, residents say the ultimate responsibility for preserving the neighborhood and making sure it does not become what it was before lies with the people living in the area.

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