For decades, Hunts Point has been one of poorest communities in the country. Over half the population lives below the poverty line and receives public assistance (AFDC, Home Relief, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid). Hunts Point has one of the highest concentrations of Hispanics in all of New York City, mainly Puerto Ricans.
Only 3,361 people in the area are reported to be in the labor force, which translates as approximately 40% of the total available working population that is employed. The average family here makes around $17,000 per year and the average household income is $16,000 per year. In the United States as whole the average household income is $42,000 per year and the average family makes $50,000 per year.
The ZIP code is 10474.
Hunts Point is a peninsula located at the confluence of the Bronx River and the East River, which is actually a tidal strait connecting Upper New York Bay to the Long Island Sound. The total land area is approximately 690 acres or 1.07 square miles.
Most of the land area in Hunts Point is dominated by industry. There is a small but dense residential pocket that occupies the high ground in the northern half of the peninsula along Hunts Point Avenue. It consists primarily of older apartment buildings with a smaller number of semi-detached multi-unit row houses.
There are also two secure detention centers located in Hunts Point with a third planned.
The New York City Department of City Planning designated a Special Hunts Point District in 2004 to incorporate zoning changes to encourage growth of the food distribution center while protecting the residential neighborhood.
Other parks include the Tiffany Street Pier, the waterfront Lafayette Avenue Park with additional boat launching sites, Joseph Rodman Drake Park, Barretto Park, Hunts Point Playground, and the Julio Carballo Ball Fields.
In the years between the Hunts’ inheritance and 1850, several other wealthy landowning families occupied the peninsula. Legend has it that George Fox (1624-1691), founder of the Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers), preached in the area in 1672. William H. Fox, a descendant of the Quaker leader, and his wife Charlotte Leggett, owned much of the land that is now Hunts Point.
As time passed and more New Yorkers became aware of the luxurious lifestyle available in Hunt’s Point, more City dwellers flocked to the area between 1850 and 1900. Later, the property wound up in the hands of Fox's and Leggett's son-in-law, H.D. Tiffany, a member of the family that owned the famous jewelry and decorative arts store Tiffany & Co. now on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Fox, Tiffany and Leggett Streets derive their names from these former landowners. In 1909, the Fox mansion was demolished.
Hunts Point’s status as a home and vacation spot to the city’s elite came to a rather abrupt end in the period following World War I. At this time, a train line was built along Southern Boulevard. Apartment buildings replaced mansions, streets replaced meadows and Hunt’s Point became a virtual melting pot for the City’s masses.
Aside from being a period of residential growth for Hunt’s Point, the 20th century has also been a time of industrial expansion for the peninsula. As more people moved to the area, the city’s business owners began to realize the advantages of locating to Hunt’s Point. Among them were the convenient access to the Tri-State region, the existing rail lines running through the Hunt’s Point area and the abundance of space available for the development of industrial and commercial activity.
This discovery led to an influx of businesses to the area. As the momentum of incoming businesses increased, the reputation of Hunt’s Point grew accordingly among business circles. With the openings of the New York City Produce market in 1967 and Hunts Point Meat Market in 1974, and culminating with the designation of Hunts Point as an In-Place-Industrial Park in 1980, Hunts Point has grown into a successful economic zone. The Hunts Point Industrial Park hosts over 800 businesses providing an array of products and services to points throughout the world.
The second half of the 20th century, has been a difficult time for the district's residential community. Characterized by frequent arson and mass abandonment throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, this period was a low point in the area's history. Living conditions became so difficult that almost 60,000 residents, approximately two-thirds of the existing population, left the neighborhood during the 1970s. Hunts Point is still a struggling neighborhood, with over half the population living below the poverty line and a very high violent crime rate. The first full-service post office in the neighborhood opened in 2001.
Hunts Point has suffered from crime and poverty for many years, and is part of the poorest congressional district in the country, with over half the population living well below the poverty line. The neighborhood's 41st police precinct consistently records the highest violent crime rate per capita in New York City, and due to its small and dense residential area, it has long been considered one of the most dangerous areas in the city. Violence due to gangs and drugs is common throughout the community, and it is one of the NYPD's "impact zones". Due to the lucrative drug trade in the area, many drug addicts reside in the community. The area also suffers from high incarceration rates. Violence is also a problem in the neighborhood's schools. Students are required to pass through metal detectors and swipe ID cards to enter the buildings. The neighborhood has been noted for its prostitution industry. HBO has made four documentaries about prostitution in Hunts Point, the most recent in April 2002.
Josephine Infante is the founder and executive director of HPEDC, which has worked with public and private agencies to obtain federal empowerment and empire state incentives to revitalize the Hunts Point industrial zone. Since HPEDC has monitored more than five hundred million dollars in public works projects, and worked with the city to relocate of the Fulton Fish Market in Manhattan to Hunts Point and thus consolidate the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center as a major generator of jobs in the Bronx.
HPEDC partnered with the police to relocate the infamous "Fort Apache" 41st precinct to a more central location in the community. In 1995 HPEDC successfully lobbied NYNEX to accelerate the investment of $51 million to upgrade telephone system for fiber optic lines underground. In 2005, the city and HPEDC inaugurated an employment and training center for Hunts Point. Over 1,000 placements were made and as a result,a permanent workforce program was approved for Hunts Point starting 2008. The Southern Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID), signed into law at the end of 2007, is a plan where commercial businesses join together with property owners to develop and underwrite the cost of additional services to the retail area.
SSBx, founded by Majora Carter, has brought government, corporate, and foundation money into the area to build two new waterfront parks along the Bronx River at Lafayette Avenue, and along the East River at the end of Tiffany Street, providing the first formalized waterfront access in 60 years.
In addition, SSBx runs the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training (BEST) program, which takes qualifying students through 10 weeks of intensive training covering everything from tree pruning and climbing to OSHA brownfield remediation to green roof installation and maintenance to estuary restoration to job/life skills. This program aims to give local residents a personal and financial stake in the management of their local environment. In December 2006, Mitsubishi Corporation contributed $150,000 to expand the program.
In 2005, above their offices in the historic American Banknote Building SSBx built the SSBx Cool and Greenroof Demonstration Project, the first such roof in New York City. Green roofs mitigate urban heat island effect, retain storm water runoff from overwhelming the city sewage system and dumping into the rivers, and provide local jobs for installation and maintenance. In 2007, SSBx launched the for-profit SmartRoofs, a green roof installation business.
Rocking the Boat's Hunt Point river site is located at the Jose E. Serrano Riverside Campus for Arts and the Environment, adjacent to Lafayette Park on the Bronx River.
The Point, which is located in a former bagel factory, provides performance art space, visual art galleries, after-school programs in the visual and performing arts for schoolchildren in the community, and community organizing around environmental improvement and infrastructure development in the neighborhood.
In 2006, an on-line news outlet The Hunts Point Express began reporting on Hunts Point and Longwood. Written by students at Hunter College, it is edited by journalism professor Bernard L. Stein, and now appears in a print edition as well, available free at community centers, clinics and stores throughout the neighborhood.
Other schools include the Hyde Leadership Charter School, the Linsay Wildcat Academy Charter School, MS201 Theatre Arts & RSCH, P352 at 201 Vida Bogart School, PS 352, PS 48 Joseph R Drake, St. Ignatius School, and Wildcat Second Opportunity School.