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Collection Overview

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

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Collection
Title:Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción records
Dates:1967-2004 (bulk 1974-1999)
Call Number:M111

Historical Note

Built on landfill in the mid-19th century, the South End was developed specifically to attract Boston's growing merchant class. The area was popular at first, but hard economic times, the prohibitively high price of land, and the rise of the Back Bay neighborhood with its proximity to both Beacon Hill and the financial district, discouraged many families from settling there permanently. By the early 20th century, the large single-family homes had been divided into multiple room apartments, and the majority of the neighborhood residents were either working class Americans or immigrants. One of the ethnic groups that migrated to Boston during the 1940s and 50s was Puerto Ricans, many of whom found affordable housing in the South End. By the 1960s, the neighborhood was home to 2,000 Puerto Ricans who lived in the area defined by West Newton, West Dedham, Tremont, and Washington streets.

In 1965, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) adopted the South End Urban Renewal Plan. This plan was intended to revitalize an area called Parcel 19, by tearing down existing housing and replacing it with housing that current residents would be unable to afford. Moreover, the BRA's plan did not include relocation housing for residents who faced displacement. In response to the BRA's plan, several residents and activists, among them Israel Feliciano, Rev. William Dwyer, Helen Morton and Phil Bradley organized the grassroots group called Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, the Puerto Rican Tenants Association. Their motto became "No nos mudaremos de la parcela 19" ("We will not be moved from Parcel 19"). In 1968, the group incorporated under the name Emergency Tenant's Council of Parcel 19, Inc. (ETC) to develop and build affordable housing and to provide services that would give residents the skills to control this housing once the development was completed.

In 1968, ETC administered three divisions: Housing Development, Social Services, and the Executive Office. Housing Development was responsible for managing construction, including relocating residents, demolishing buildings, supervising sites, negotiating contracts, and for securing financing for future housing projects. Social Services was made up of seven units: housing search, consumer education, job development and placement, tenant counseling, translation and advocacy, referrals, and special services to the elderly. The Executive Office oversaw the administrative and financial operations and developed new programs.

In 1969, ETC formed the Emergency Tenant's Council Development Corporation (ETC DC). Incorporated as ETC's non-profit affiliate, ETC DC was eligible to receive money ear-marked by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for building low-income housing. With the assistance of architect John Sharratt and Greater Boston Community Development, ETC appeared before the BRA's South End Site Office with its own redevelopment plan that, unlike the BRA's, addressed both the immediate needs of the residents and the long term goals of the community. The plan was well received by the South End Site Office, and at a meeting in late 1969 the director of the BRA appointed ETC as the sponsor-developer of Parcel 19. In 1970, the Emergency Tenant's Council Developers, Inc. (ETC DI) was formed by ETC as its for profit general partner whose role was to develop, finance, construct, and manage all future housing. ETC DI then established four non-profit limited partnerships to develop Parcel 19. Having limited partnerships as developers made securing federal money easier and allowed community control over the housing. Since the limited partnerships were responsible for developing specific property, each property was named after its limited partnership: ETC and Associates, Victoria Associates, Viviendas Associates, and Borinquen Associates. Development was funded by HUD.

Villa Victoria, the resulting development, was not designed to resemble the institutionalized housing developments that had become ubiquitous across America, nor was it meant only to blend in with the 19th century row houses that remained in the neighborhood. Its design was the result of numerous meetings between residents and community leaders and the architect's trip to Puerto Rico. "The result was beautiful concrete row houses with sloping roofs, medium-high front steps, backyards, and iron railings. Painted in bright and earthy colors—soft yellows, roses, tans, and pastels—the houses gave the once grim area a fresh, clean appearance, appropriate to the community's sense of optimism" (Villa Victoria, 40-41). Included in these homes were "modern kitchens and dining areas, state-of-the-art heating systems, upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms . . . large living room windows facing sidewalks, trees, or parks, and rear doors leading to individual yards and small gardens" (Villa Victoria, 41). The transformation of Parcel 19 was acknowledged by several architectural awards, and Villa Victoria became a model for other housing developments.

Once construction was underway and the social programs were in effect, several changes were made to solidify IBA's cultural identity. In 1974, ETC incorporated as Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción and the property management affiliate of IBA was named ETC Management. Also in 1974, the Arte y Cultura Department was established and Myrna Vasquez, a prominent actress and activist from Puerto Rico, created the Areyto Program. Areyto was based on the philosophy that the arts can empower people by teaching them about their cultural heritage, building community, and providing youth with the opportunity to express themselves through performing and creating. One of its most significant contributions was the organization of celebrations unique to Puerto Rican culture, such as the Three Kings Festival and Festival Betances. In addition to the Areyto program, IBA established three other divisions in 1974: Human Services, Community Organization, and Housing Development. These departments administered programs that focused on employment counseling and job training, elder care and family services, resident leadership development and resident displacement, affordable housing, and community control of housing. Over the next six years, IBA solidified its cultural identity. In 1976, residents voted to rename Parcel 19 Villa Victoria; in 1978, parents living in Villa Victoria opened Escuelita Agüeybana, the first bilingual day care center in Massachusetts; and in 1980, IBA purchased and began rehabilitating All Saints Church into the Villa Victoria Community Center, the first Hispanic community center in New England.

In 1993, the Boards of Directors of IBA and ETC voted to become IBA / ETC. This was done to better serve the residents of the Villa Victoria community and to more clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each entity. The merger, however, did not affect the four original limited partnerships that built Villa Victoria, which continued to own their individual housing developments. ETC and Associates was the first housing built; consequently, it was the first of the limited partnerships to fall under HUD's 20 year expiring use restriction, which permitted it to rent the units out at market rate. In 1989, IBA began to organize the residents of ETC and Associates housing development to inform them of their right to purchase their homes before the HUD expiring use restriction ran out. From 1991 to 1996, IBA and the Shawmut / Tremont Tenant Corporation (STTC) worked together to purchase the property. In 1995, they formed the Phil C. Bradley Housing Partnership / Consorcio de Vivienda Phil C. Bradley Inc. (Bradley Housing), and HUD approved Bradley Housing's purchase and sale agreement in 1997. STTC was the first to accomplish the original goal of IBA, which was for residents to have long-term control over their housing and their community.

From late 1996 through 1997, IBA's leadership was unstable, causing internal strife throughout the organization and between board members. This resulted in hiring a transitional administrator who instituted a series of improvement plans, including more board development. In 1998, a new Board of Directors was elected, which signaled a long period of growth and stability for the organization.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, IBA offered a wide variety of programs and services that addressed both the social and economic needs of Villa Victoria residents. Among them were the Café Teatro Performance Series, Areyto's In-School Cultural Awareness Program, and Teens in Action, a video production training program, all of which were administered by the Arte y Cultura Department. The Café Teatro Performance Series began in 1986 and hosted Latin Jazz and traditional music, dance performances and Latino theater and cinema. In the 1990s, the Areyto Cultural Awareness Program introduced Puerto Rican and Latino American culture to 25-30 Boston public schools through its In-School Cultural Awareness Program and the Young Audiences of Massachusetts Program. Other programs included Canal 6, a video training and production program that was broadcasted throughout Villa Victoria, and after school programs that taught music, dance, and visual arts.

The Community Development Department continued to develop projects that provided residents with greater opportunities for oversight of both their housing and their community. In 1986, the Villa Victoria Community Center opened (renamed the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center later the same year) with the purpose of generating revenue by being rented out for community functions. In addition, it became home to the Café Teatro Performance Series. The Taino Tower complex opened in 1987 and included commercial and condominium space. Housing for families with special needs, Residencia Betances, opened in 1994. From 1989-1996, the Department was very involved with the Shawmut / Tremont Tenant Cooperation and the Phil C. Bradley Housing Corporation (Bradley Housing) buyout of the ETC and Associates housing development, which was owned by the limited partnership of the same name.

The Human Services Department provided a diverse array of programs for youth, elders, and families. Youth programs focused on empowerment, peer leadership, drop-out prevention, job counseling, substance abuse, and AIDS awareness. The Comprehensive Eldercare services program, located in the Unity Tower elderly housing development, included translation, advocacy, and mental health services. Family services included child care certification classes, family day care, and counseling and assistance for residents seeking work, victims of domestic violence, and residents with substance abuse problems.

In 1992, the Community Planning and Organizing Department was established to work with both the residents of Villa Victoria and the South End community on community building strategies. The Department provided a leadership training series for IBA's Board of Directors; published El Correo de la Villa, a Spanish-English newspaper written by residents; organized community safety forums; and provided leadership trainings designed to encourage more resident participation in program planning and implementation. Public Safety Peerleaders and the Public Safety Committee worked with residents and the wider community to end crime and violence. These efforts were all part of the Villa Victoria 2000 Initiative, a multi-year community organizing and planning project designed to ensure IBA's and Villa Victoria's strength in the next millennium. The Department closed in 1999.

Escuelita Boriken, IBA's pre-school, opened in 1996. The bilingual, child-centered curriculum focused on developmental learning with an emphasis on preparing students for elementary school. Located in the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center, Escuelita Boriken was established to continue providing day care services for the children and families of Villa Victoria and the South End after Escuelita Agüeybana closed its doors in 1996.

In 1999, IBA recognized the need for computer literacy in the Villa Victoria community. The El Batey Technology Center was created to provide computer classes, job training, and free Internet access to Villa Victoria residents. Cacique, a youth leadership program that included computer training in its curriculum, was created at the same time. In 2000, the Villa Tech program was established, which installed computers in over 400 housing units. Villa Tech has evolved into Villa Tech, Inc., and IBA serves as its fiscal conduit. Since 2003, Villa Tech, Inc. has maintained a community technical support desk, provided affordable technology for other area non-profit agencies, and partnered with Bunker Hill Community College to establish the Pathway Technology campus at Villa Victoria. The Bunker Hill program consists of career-oriented certificate programs, on-site job training opportunities, and college-level classes. In 2003, IBA renovated the parish house adjacent to the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center and created the Center for Latino Arts / Casa de la Cultura, which includes an art gallery and studios for dance and visual arts.

In 2006, IBA provided services for youth, families, adults, and the elderly through community organizing, educational, civic, cultural, and peer leadership programs. ETC Development Corporation, IBA's for profit affiliate, continued to develop new affordable housing in Boston's neighborhoods.
Chronology
1965Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) adopts the South End Urban Renewal Plan.
1968Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), a grassroots organization in the South End, is started by activists and residents.IBA incorporates under the name Emergency Tenants' Council of Parcel 19, Inc. (ETC).ETC establishes Human Services division.
1969ETC is designated by the BRA as sponsor-developer of Parcel 19.
1970Emergency Tenants' Council Developers Incorporated (ETC DI) incorporates as the for profit affiliate of ETC.
1971ETC and Associates housing development is completed.
1974Emergency Tenants' Council legally changes name to Inquilinos Boricaus en Acción (IBA). IBA becomes parent organization.ETC becomes the property management and security affiliate of IBA.Unity Tower elderly housing development is completed.IBA hosts first annual cultural festival, later named Festival Betances.
1975 IBA establishes Arte y Cultura Department and the Areyto program.IBA's public access television channel, Canal 6, begins broadcasting.Plaza Betances housing development is completed.
1976Residents vote to change the name of Parcel 19 to Villa Victoria.Viviendas la Victoria housing development is completed.
1977Casas Borinquen housing development is completed.
1978Escuelita Agüeybana, a bilingual day care center located in Villa Victoria, is established.
1979Betances Mural is completed.
1980IBA establishes Areyto In-School Cultural Awareness program.IBA purchases All Saints Church and begins renovating it into Villa Victoria Cultural Center.
1981Community Development Department starts the South End Credit Union.
1982Viviendas la Victoria II housing development is completed.
1986Renovation of Villa Victoria Community Center is completed and name is changed to the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center.
1989IBA begins working with families living in ETC and Associates housing to apply for Low Income Preservation and Home-ownership loan (LIHPRAH).
1990IBA begins Café Teatro Performance Series.
1991Taino Tower condominiums are completed.
1993IBA and ETC Board of Directors vote to merge.IBA launches the Villa Victoria 2000 Initiative.Residencia Betances, special room housing, opens.
1994IBA and ETC merge and become IBA / ETC.
1995IBA Board of Directors is requested to vote to merge with Escuelita Agüeybana.
1996HUD terminates management contract with IBA / ETC.HUD approves Phil C. Bradley Housing Partnership / Consorico de Vivienda Phil C. Bradley, Inc.'s Plan of Action to purchase, renovate, and permanently preserve ETC and Associates development as affordable housing.Escuelita Agüeybana day care centers close.IBA establishes Escuelita Boriken pre-school.
1998Villa Victoria housing development is managed by Peabody Properties.
1999El Batey Technology Center opens.
2000IBA / ETC resumes management of housing properties.IBA establishes Villa Tech, a community-based nonprofit organization.
2002IBA partners with Strive Inc. and launches IBA Employment Services.
2003IBA opens La Casa de la Cultura / Center.IBA opens the Cacique Youth Learning Center.
2004IBA / Bunker Hill College partner to form the Pathway Technology Campus at Villa Victoria.
Chronology
1974-1977Luz Caldron, Head of Executive Staff
1977-1986Jorge Hernandez
1986 Clara Garcia, Assistant Director
Jun-Dec 1986Clara Garcia, Acting Director
Jan 1987-Aug 1994Clara Garcia, Executive Director
1983-1996Richard Thal, Assistant Director
Sep 1994-1996Nelson Merced, Chief Executive Officer
Jan-Oct 1997Ruben Nieves, Interim Chief Executive Officer
Oct 1997-Jun1998Reyes Rodriguez, Interim Chief Executive Officer
Jun 1998-Jan 2000David Cortiella, Transitional Administrator
Feb 2000-Oct 2003David Cortiella, Executive Director
Oct 2003-Dec 2004Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Acting Director
Dec 2004-Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Chief Executive Officer
Bibliography

I.B.A. Five-Year Report: 1970-1975 (Box 6, Folder 21).

ETC limited partnership organization documents (Box 17 Folders 69-79, Box 48 Folder 1).

IBA Board of Director's Minutes (Box 2, Folders 37-40).

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción web site, /http://www.iba-etc.org.

Small, Mario. Villa Victoria: the Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Bario. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, c 2004.