Nos Quedamos reopens after shutdown

Nos Quedamos, Melrose’s leading developer and manager of affordable housing, reopened in late February after a two-week shutdown when a dispute over its leadership forced the organization to close.

The organization’s board locked its executive director Yolanda Gonzalez out amid accusations that she used funds improperly while laying off longtime workers.

Long time board member Jessica Clemente is acting as volunteer interim executive director.

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, and has begun operating again after the shutdown. The group relocated its operations to 754 Melrose Ave last year when their landlord raised the rent on their Mott Haven space.

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.”

Rivera said he has withdrawn his resignation. He declined to comment on the dispute.

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.

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