NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Who says you can’t go home again?
It took 50 years, but some Lower East Siders are finally moving back in.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, the view looks a lot different from David Santiago’s window since he last lived on Delancy Street in 1967.
“A lot of steel, and they took all that down,” he told Bauman.
Santiago was six years old when the city kicked his family out as part of the Urban Renewal Plan, promising they could return once the area was redeveloped.
“I didn’t think anything of it at the time, because when you’re mother says ‘pack up,’ we’re packing up and we’re going,” he said. “They moved us to 60 Avenue D.”
“Most of our parents were immigrants. We didn’t know,” former tenant Tito Delgado said.
Over the decades, hundreds of low income families lost hope. So what took so long?
“So many stories about developers coming, and this happening and that, and nothing happened. So I had no faith in the project,” said Santiago.
Mayor after mayor put it on the back burner.
“Administrations kept changing, but the one thing that didn’t change was that this community never forgot the promises that were made in those early days,” RuthAnne Visnauskas, of New York State Community Renewal, said.
Frances Goldin, a resilient community activist who is now 94 years old, brought old neighbors back together to hold the city to its promise.
“Fifty years is a very long time. But if we didn’t stick to it, we’d never made it,” she said.
On Tuesday, Goldin cut the ribbon for affordable senior housing named in her honor, where a dozen seniors are finally returning home.
“It’s come a long way and it’s so much beautiful now that you can walk and live,” former tenant Alexander Rivera said. “I’m proud to say I live here.”
“It’s good to be back though after so long,” said Santiago.
Once construction is completed, the building will have doctors’ offices, a café and senior center. So tenants will not only get back the addresses they lost as children, but they’ll get back the community they lost, as well.
The completed development will have more than 500 affordable housing units for seniors.