Credit Scores Yet Another Obstacle in the Quest for Affordable Housing

Carmen Vega-Rivera jokes that she’s spent so much time in Bronx Housing Court that she sometimes checks to see if her portrait has been put up on the walls.
After an accident coupled with health issues rendered her physically disabled, the long-time Grand Concourse resident left behind a career in education and grew more involved in tenant organizing. Then, she said, her landlord attempted to thwart her efforts with an unsuccessful lawsuit alleging non-payment of rent. She has since filed complaints over improper conditions in her building, and has seen neighbors go in and out of housing court, too. Now, with New York City studying whether to allow larger residences along a mostly commercial stretch of Jerome Avenue, Vega-Rivera said she is concerned such trips to housing court, as well as poor credit scores and other financial records, may stand between her southwest Bronx community and the affordable housing the city says it would reap through a rezoning.

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