Community center has secured $1 million for needed roof repairs


The Kingsbridge Heights Community Center’s roof is in need of urgent repairs, which is why U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer has helped secure $1 million for the center.

Raye Barbieri, chief executive officer of the center — which provides services for children, teens, adults and families — gave a big heartfelt thanks to the senator for securing the funding that’ll prevent water from leaking on kids in classrooms.

The center applied for the federal money through senators Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat. Barbieri said he was thrilled to learn Schumer advocated for the center and included it in the recent passage of a budget bill relating to transportation, housing and urban development.

The center was founded in 1974. Two years prior, three neighborhood women passionate about the community learned the 50th Precinct was moving out and they jumped at the opportunity. The center now provides early childhood services, youth services, adult and family services, nutrition and food access services, and KHCConnect, which screens all participants enrolled in programs for unaddressed needs and provides assistance.

It is also one of the only rape crisis centers in the Bronx, the borough in which 25 percent of reported rapes in the city take place, according to New York Daily News.

“We’re super grateful,” Barbieri told The Press. “It will go to the city to support the capitol repairs on our roof, which are sorely needed and more urgent by the day. “

The former home to the 50th Precinct and landmark building was built in 1901, with insufficient drainage and was never retrofitted to accommodate modern use, Barbieri said.

The building’s parapets are currently pulling away from the building, and causing leaks all throughout the interior.

Shubhra Mishra, the center’s development and communications director, told The Press currently the staff has to be very careful when it comes to the safety of those inside the building.

“We try our best to monitor the roof situation every day, and there are patches,” Mishra said. “The scaffolding outside also comes from our pocket because we had to get it them up to ensure nothing from the roof falls.”

In one of the center’s rooms, Mishra pointed out windows with plastic coverings as well as freshly painted walls covering streaks from water leaked from the ceiling, though the sound of water droplets hitting the floor could still be heard. Until substantive repairs come, there is a bucket to catch droplets and a wall that will likely need another paint job in the near future.

“We just want the work to be started, the plans to be finished, because there’s a greater need in the community,” Mishra said. “And in order to do that, you have to make sure there are places for the teens to go, places for the tweens to go. We can’t just shut down the program. We need to make sure that the program is running.”

The leaks are all over the center, from offices to classrooms to halls. Mishra said the roof is slanted, making it possible for objects on it to come crashing down.

As a result, sidewalk sheds have been installed, which Mishra described as an extremely expensive Band-Aid to the problem.

The upcoming repairs made possible by the federal money will address the entire roof, something that will make the center’s buildings and grounds director, Jeison Lopez, much more relaxed.

“I think I will sleep better at night,” Lopez told The Press. “I’ll be able to have less issues going on in the building.”

The roof is not the only thing in need of fixing at the center, Mishra said. The garden steps are slanted, and more benches and new beds for community members are needed, as is continued funding for some of the center’s teen programs.

Another thing the center could use, according to youth operations director Roberto Rodriguez, is upgraded technology.

“We have computers now but they’re not the best computers,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of (attendees) are interested in doing graphic design, something we can’t do with our computers because they’re very slow.”

The center held a prom dress and suits giveaway April 30 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in partnership with District Attorney Darcel Clark’s office.

“We’re building a better Bronx,” Mishra said. “We started as an afterschool program and we’re here, 50 years later.”

Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, Chuck Schumer, roof repairs, community services, funding impact, Bronx community center, urgent repairs, community development