In 2003, several North Brooklyn congregations joined forces to address diminishing affordable housing stock in the community. Ten years later, that coalition, Churches United For Fair Housing (CUFFH) is still pursuing that mission, as well as an expanded focus that includes open space, education, health and economic development. Along the way, they have successfully advocated for the creation of thousands of units of affordable housing and have become leaders in the effort to hold the City to commitments it made during 2005’s rezoning.
On Wednesday, February 20th, CUFFH marked a decade of community activism at their annual awards dinner. Elected officials, community leaders, real estate developers and supporters toasted the organization’s success and honored Miriam Buhl, Pro Bono Counsel at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, Director of Cornell University New York City Urban Semester Sam Beck and Randolph Peers, Executive Director of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT), for their contributions to the community. The event, which also serves as the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, was once again held at Kent Avenue’s Giando’s on the Water with its expansive views of the neighborhood on whose behalf CUFFH fights.
“This year, our organization experienced strong and positive revitalization as we expanded upon our mission,” said CUFFH Executive Director Rob Solano. “[Ten years] means that we’re here, that we’re relevant and we’ll keep up the battle against displacement. That’s a big issue for us and we’re going to continue to do the right thing for our community.” Councilmember Diana Reyna agreed. “CUFFH has proven to be the premier resource for our community’s housing needs,” she said.
CUFFH’s growing mission is a natural outgrowth of its founders’ vision, explained Peers, and aligns perfectly with that of OBT. “There’s a direct connection between fair, affordable housing and employment,” he said. “If our kids and their families can’t keep a roof over their heads, they’re not going to do well in our job training program nor are they going to do well in the labor market.”
Looking ahead at the next decade, Solano promises not to lose focus on CUFFH’s central goal. “We’re going to make sure the waterfront rezoning promises are kept and the things that happen along Williamsburg and Greenpoint work out for the people that have lived there their whole lives,” he promised.