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Morris Heights is a low income residential neighborhood located in the west Bronx. The neighborhood is part of Bronx Community Board 5. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: West Burnside Avenue to the north, Jerome Avenue to the east, the Cross-Bronx Expressway to the south, and the Harlem Rivermarker to the west. University Avenue is the primary thoroughfare through Morris Heights. The local subway is the IRT Jerome Avenue Line, operating along Jerome Avenue. ZIP codes include 10453. The area is patrolled by the 46th Precinct located at 2120 Ryer Avenue in Fordham. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property in the area is patrolled by P.S.A. 7 at 737 Melrose Avenue in the Melrosemarker section of the Bronxmarker.

Demographics

Morris Heights has a population over 45,000. For decades Morris Heights has been one of the poorest communities in America. Over half the population lives below the poverty line and receives public assistance (AFDC, Home Relief, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid). The vast majority of residents in the area are of Puerto Rican, Dominican, or African American descent. The vast majority of households are renter occupied.

Land use and terrain

Morris Heights is dominated by 5 and 6-story tenement buildings, older multi-unit homes, vacant lots, and newly constructed subsidized attached multi-unit townhouses and apartment buildings. A significant percentage of the original housing stock was structurally damaged by arson and eventually razed by the city. The neighborhood contains one of the highest concentrations of NYCHA projects in the Bronx. The total land area is less than half one square mile. The terrain is elevated and very hilly. Stair streets connect areas located at different elevations.

Low income public housing projects

  • There are ten NYCHA developments located in Morris Heights.
  1. Harrison Avenue Rehab (Group A); one, 5-story rehabilited tenement building.
  2. Harrison Avenue Rehab (Group B); four rehabilitated buildings, 5 and 6-stories tall.
  3. Macombs Road; two rehabilited buildings, 5 and 6-stories tall.
  4. Morris Heights Rehab; three rehabilitated tenement buildings, 5 and 6-stories tall
  5. Sedgewick Houses; seven buildings, 14 and 15-stories tall.
  6. University Avenue Rehab; four, 6-story rehabilitated tenement buildings.
  7. West Tremont Avenue-Sedgwick Avenue Area; one, 12-story building.
  8. West Tremont Rehab (Group 1); two rehabilitated tenement buildings, 5 and 6-stories tall.
  9. West Tremont Rehab (Group 3); one, 5-story rehabilitated tenement building.
  10. West Tremont Rehab (Group 2); two, 6-story rehabilitated tenement buildings.


History

The Cross Bronx Expressway bisects Morris Heights. This is no coincidence, as developer Robert Moses rammed the infamous highway through the length of The Bronx, more or less destroying it. This in part is considered to be the cause of the fall of the South Bronx in the latter part of the 20th century, as discussed in the book The Power Broker. After the Cross Bronx Expressway was completed, the area was predominantly African-American and Puerto Rican. Beginning in the late 1970s, many Dominicans from Washington Heightsmarker crossed the bridge and moved to Morris Heights. Most Dominicans chose to move to Morris Heights due to the easy access to Washington Heights and additional schools for their children.

Social problems

Many social problems associated with poverty from crime to drug addiction have plagued the area for some time. Despite crime declines versus their peaks during the crack and heroin epidemics violent crime continues to be a serious problem in the community. Morris Heights has significantly higher drop out rates and incidents of violence in its schools. Students must pass through metal detectors and swipe ID cards to enter the buildings. Reminiscent a prison environment which many feel encourages bad behavior. Other problems in local schools include low test scores and high truancy rates. Drug addiction is also a serious problem in the community. Due to the lucrative drug trade in the area many addicted reside in the community. Peer pressure among children who come from broken homes contributes to the high rate of usage. Many households in the area are headed by a single mother which contributes to the high poverty rate. Many of whom had their children at a very young age and unfortunately could not provide for their children. Many of the families living in Morris Heights have been in poverty for generations. The incarceration rate in the area is also very high. Many if not most males in the community have been arrested at some point in their lives. This has a direct correlation to aggressive policing tactics including "sweeps" due to the area's high crime rate. Morris Heights is home to a significant number of inmates currently held in New York state prison and jail facilities.

Urban renewal

After a wave of arson ravaged the low income communities of New York City throughout the 1970s, many if not most residential structures in Morris Heights were left seriously damaged or destroyed. The city began to rehabilitate many formerly abandoned tenement style apartment buildings and designate them low income housing beginning in the late 1970s. Also many subsidized attached multi-unit townhouses and newly constructed apartment buildings have been or are being built on vacant lots across across the neighborhood.

Schools

  • CIS 82: Alexander Macomb (West 176th Street and Macombs Road)
  • PS 109 (Popham Avenue and West Tremont Avenue)
  • PS 204: Morris Heights (West 174th Street and Nelson Avenue)
  • PS 230/MS 229: Roland Patterson (Harlem River Park Bridge and Sedgwick Avenue)
  • PS 306 (West Tremont and Jerome Avenues)
  • MS 331: The Bronx School of Science Inquiry and Investigation (West Tremont and Davidson Avenue)
  • PS 396/MS 390 (West Burnside and Andrews Avenues)


Transportation



Facts

  • Morris Heights is also known as West Tremont.
  • Eleanor Bumpurs was shot dead by police in 1984 after she attempted to attack officers enforcing an eviction. Many feel the shooting was not justified due to the victim's mental complications.
  • Morris Heights is often considered part of the socioeconomic South Bronx.


See also



References

  1. Bronx Community District 5
  2. NYCHA
  3. 46th Precinct CompStat Report
  4. NYC Dropout Rates
  5. Bronx Census Data Analysis
  6. NYC Prison Expenditure



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