In an attempt to fight the blight and deterioration that had plagued the Hunts Point community of the Bronx, the group known as SEBCO (South East Bronx Community Organization) was formed in the fall of 1968 under the visionary leadership of Father Louis R. Gigante.
Thirteen organizations, among them churches, business institutions and local civic associations, banded together in an effort to redevelop one of the worst neighborhoods in the United States. Assisted by the “Model Cities Program”, SEBCO worked with urban planners and elected officials to develop schools, recreational facilities and to redevelop the local infrastructure, as a prelude to the redevelopment of the neighborhood’s housing stock. By 1974, only five of the original thirteen organizations remained active, and the future of the South East Bronx was uncertain.
However, in 1975, the future of SEBCO and the Hunts Point community began to change for the better. After lengthy negotiations, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved SEBCO’s first subsidized rehabilitation project known as SEBCO I and II for 360 apartments in 9 buildings. Then in 1977, HUD approved the next project known as SEBCO III, for an additional 200 housing units, and by late 1978, many more proposals for HUD Section 8 projects were approved. These projects included SEBCO VI (100 units), Maria Estela Houses I (236 units as SEBCO’s first new construction project), and Aldus III (173 units).
SEBCO, with a staff of three opened its own office in the SEBCO I Houses in January of 1978 which led to the hiring of additional staff members to assist in tenanting, community organizing, management, maintenance and housing development.
Then in April of 1978, SEBCO was formally incorporated under the laws of the State of New York for not-for-profit organizations as SEBCO Development Inc. and as they say, the rest is history!. The organization, growing rapidly, and in anticipation of a need for its own management, maintenance and security systems, began investigating a series of alternatives. By the spring of 1980, SEBCO Management (now known as Building Management Associates) became a reality, and soon thereafter SEBCO Security (now known as Sentry Security) followed. Both subsidiaries became profit making organizations, and have had significant impact on the continuing development of the neighborhood in terms of providing employment as well as the future sustenance of SEBCO Development Inc., (the nonprofit organization).
In March 1985 SEBCO started another subsidiary, Tiffany Maintenance, to service the buildings under its management. The SEBCO organization can proudly point to the fact that its creation has been a pivotal component in the redevelopment of the Hunts Point community. Its main course has been to simulate and directly develop a neighborhood. Its success has been in fusing government assistance and the involvement of private resources with its own community development plan, ideas, support and energies. It has grown to be less reliant on government, and has positioned its own resources in support of its daily existence.
Since its inception, SEBCO has solely sponsored and or developed affordable housing projects. SEBCO is responsible for the development and construction of over6,000 new or rehabilitated housing units in approximately 450 buildings throughout the South Bronx. It should also be noted that SEBCO operates two homeless shelters under contract with the NYC Department of Homeless Services, (DHS) and two senior citizen centers under contract with the NYC Department for the Aging, (DFTA).
Needless to say, SEBCO’s forty five year legacy would not have been possible without the support and generous funding from many governmental agencies and foundations including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the NYC Department Housing Preservation and Development, (HPD), the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal, (DHCR), the NYS Housing Finance Agency, (HFA), the Enterprise Foundation (Enterprise) and the Local Initiative Support Corp.
SEBCO has grown from a small group of community activists into a sizable and sophisticated development company with over 300 employees. From modest origins, SEBCO has contributed greatly to the City of New York by providing jobs, commerce, recreational facilities and of course, housing for its low and moderate-income residents. SEBCO is rightfully proud of its record, its accomplishments and its success in carrying out its mission of providing decent, safe and affordable housing. SEBCO stands ready to continue its efforts and mission to better the City of New York and the Bronx for another 45 years.