Nos Quedamos, Melrose’s leading developer and manager of affordable housing, has been closed for more than a week in a dispute over its leadership.
The organization’s board locked its executive director Yolanda Gonzalez out amid accusations that she had used funds improperly while laying off longtime workers.
Gonzalez declined to comment, saying only that the closing is temporary.
The president of Nos Quedamos’ board, Gilberto Rivera, who is also one of its founding members, sent a letter of resignation to local organizations in November of last year, accusing Gonzalez of “favoritism,” “nepotism,” and “no accurate financial reports,” among other transgressions.
Rivera said he has withdrawn his resignation. He declined to comment on the dispute.
Another non-profit group, the South Bronx Action Group, which helps local residents with landlord/tenant disputes and other social services, also has its offices in Nos Quedamos’ building. The group relocated its operations to 754 Melrose Ave last year when their landlord raised the rent on their Mott Haven space.
Last week small knots of clients seeking gathered outside the office, waiting on a bitter cold morning, before drifting away.
People familiar with the dispute, all of whom declined to be identified, described the situation as a classic falling out when a charismatic founder leaves the organization in the hands of a successor.
Founded by Gonzalez’s mother Yolanda Garcia in 1992, Nos Quedamos has played a leading role in the revival of the Melrose neighborhood. It has built or is managing thousands of apartments for low- or moderate-income residents. Its most recent project is El Jardin de Seline, a 12-story building on East 158th Street and Melrose Avenue for low-income residents. Twenty percent of the 84 apartments are set aside for families that had been living in homeless shelters.
The most recent tax filings available from the IRS, filed in March 2010 and covering the 12 months from July 2008 to June 2009, show a substantial drop in revenue, from nearly $800,000 to $625,000.
Recently Nos Quedamos has expanded its geographic scope and is partnering with other development organizations on projects across the South Bronx, including one on Westchester Avenue in Longwood and another on Coster Street in Hunts Point, raising questions about the group’s future role in those projects.
But Community Board 2 chairman Orlando Marin said the projects are unlikely to be affected, despite the uncertainty stemming from the turmoil at the organization.
“We’re concerned that this is happening to an organization that has done good work for the last 25 years, but I’m not concerned those projects will be jeopardized at all,” Marin said.
Marin noted that Nos Quedamos’ partner organizations for the two projects in Hunts Point and Longwood, the Mutual Housing Association of New York, formerly known as ACORN, and Melrose-based MJM Construction, will pick up any slack.
“The other organizations are capable of running with the torch,” Marin said.