Tijuana: Mother to All
500 W 42nd St
"I was one of the first tenants to move into the building and it was kind of shocking to me, because I’ve always lived in Brooklyn — quote unquote ‘impoverished’ areas — and the Bronx. I actually was kind of scared to move here because it was just not a familiar thing to me. But when I was shown this apartment, I literally put my hand on the window and I said, ‘You belong to me!’ And then I got the call that I got the apartment, so here I am...
I am so grateful because people would think that in this area that there is no community, but there is community all out here! There are people who I know who live in the area that I met six years ago when I moved here, and I am still meeting people, and we are seeing each other on the street and asking, ‘How are you doing?’ The man and his wife in the cleaners, everyone – it’s just this thing.
The other night, I was in (the building), and I just started feeling lonely, you know because I still wake up sometimes to find my children, but they’re not here. It was about 11 o’clock at night and I said, I have to go, I have to go outside. And I started walking around, and all of a sudden, I saw a gentleman who lives in this building. He said, ‘Hey, what are you doing out here?’ And he just looked at me, and he said, ‘You know, come on let’s walk.’ And we walked. We sat down, and I started telling him what was going on with me. We went to the grocery store, and we saw another guy who lives in this building, and then all three of us walked around. By the time I finished with them, I came home and was like, ‘God, thank you,’ because everything I need is right here."
Tijuana is a mother many times over. She was a single mother to 10 children. She’s also a mom to her neighbors: Tijuana is the woman who takes care of both her grandbabies and the person across the hall from her. She is creative, patient and kind. And now that all her kids have moved out, Tijuana has earned her master’s degree. She now works as a business as a health and wellness consultant.
Deborah: Woman About Town
353 W 30th St
"I love this spot because it’s convenient. I mean, you’re in Midtown, what more can you ask for? Everything goes on in Midtown — we’re not far from Times Square, there’s restaurants all over, there’s a recreation center which is four or five blocks down the street, so I do water aerobics and I take classes. So it’s really nice. And that’s just me!"
When Deborah left New Jersey for New York over 10 years ago, she knew she needed to be where the action was: Deborah craves community and excitement. While both her hips have been replaced, she remains a highly active member of this neighborhood. Deborah is deeply involved in her church, and never lets an opportunity pass to work in service to and spend meaningful time with her neighbors. Always positive, she consistently sees the best in others, and is an open, genuine and honest person. Our staff loves to see how Deborah makes the holiday season extra merry and full of fellowship.
Dee: Organizer & Advocate
300 W 46th St
"We are diverse, very diverse. I mean, we have seniors, we have disabled (people), we have opera singers, we have people from many different countries… We have a fellow advocate (for tenants, like myself, and) she was on my case last night — she’s a model in Fashion Week. We’ve banded together, and we sometimes have to hold our own events because if it isn’t done for us, we do it for ourselves. We roll up our sleeves. We celebrate ourselves if nobody will celebrate for us. That’s just who we are."
Dee is a fighter. She fights for herself, and she fights for her neighbors. After being without a home in New York, Dee found one in CHDC’s 46th Street building. And because of this, she ferociously protects her home and the people she shares it with. Along with a few other dedicated tenants Dee calls “advocates,” Dee will be the first to say, “This is wrong. Let’s fix it.” Always a problem solver eager for a solution, Dee is deeply engaged and connected with her civic community.
Marion: Creative Spirit
353 W 30th St
"On the tenants in CHDC’s 30th St building: Yes, we’re very close. There are lot of friends, and we have a good time. We go out together sometimes. We see each other for the different classes Clinton Housing organizes for us, (like) bingo. That is fun."
Marion has lived in Clinton / Hell’s Kitchen for almost two decades. A former opera singer from Nashville, she is one of the most creative, bright and glamorous people you’ll meet. That’s evident in her apartment, which is decorated in pothos plants she’s cultivated, along with fairy lights and vintage furniture. Marion is sweet like Tennessee honey, but only if that were to be added to a teacup of whiskey. At our 30th Street building, Marion is one of several women who have united in friendship and given our staff immense amounts of love.