Loisaida, Inc. began as a grassroots movement in the Lower East Side (LES) led by Puerto Rican activists and Hispanic residents in the mid 1970’s to combat the effects of rampant violence, drugs, gangs, and poverty facing neighborhood children, youth and families. Later, in 1978 Loisaida, Inc. was formally incorporated in New York State as a local development corporation, with the mission to address the serious economic and social disenfranchisement of poor and low income Latino residents, with employment and training opportunities, comprehensive youth development initiatives, as well as neighborhood revitalization activities that positively highlighted the rich culture, heritage, and contribution of the Puerto Rican and Latin American community in this City.
However, in 2008, Loisaida, Inc. faced eviction from its original quarters at the 709 East 9th Street Community Center, then a City-owned property, which had been its home since its inception. The building, which also housed a daycare center, had been put up for development in a neighborhood that was quickly gentrifying. However, with local community support the Community District Board 3 (CBD 3), unanimously passed a resolution in support of Loisaida, Inc. and required that it be made part of any development plan or use of the 709 East 9th Street property.
During September 2012, in order to strengthen its capacity to secure its new Center’s sustainability, Loisaida, Inc. became an Affiliate of the Acacia Network, a premier health, housing and economic development organization; the largest Hispanic-based non-profit community development organization in New York State, and the second largest in the United States.
The new Loisaida Center, will build upon the organization’s 36 year history of developing award winning innovative programs in education, arts and culture, and community development. A sample of the continuum of programming is the Loisaida Fest, which since 1987 has produced the largest outdoor cultural community celebration in the Lower East Side.
Loisaida, Inc. stands firm on its original mission– Address the serious economic and social disenfranchisement of poor and low income Latino residents, with employment and training opportunities, comprehensive youth development initiatives, as well as neighborhood revitalization activities that positively highlight the rich culture, heritage, and contribution of the Puerto Rican and Latin American community in this City– while offering programming that meets the demands of the times and the neighborhood’s changing demographic. In its new home in 710 East 9th Street, Loisaida builds a connection between community, learners, artists and scholars through affordable education opportunities in cultural fields, S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) design and everyday life. Our approach celebrates the urban surroundings, grassroots invention and immigrant spirit of the Loisaida neighborhood in its dedication to celebrate Latino cultural vitality and their contributions to NYC.
Its new multi-purpose space, The Loisaida Center, aims to become an incubator for self-
sustainable artisanal technology, and culinary arts entrepreneurial initiatives.
1. To rebuild a community’s sense of place and belonging through historical awareness and historical interpretation strategies.
2. To promote the inherent beauty and aesthetic value of everyday life.
3. To build bridges between diverse Puerto Rican and Latino iconic urban hubs.
4. To serve as an engine of discovery and as an incubator for self-sustaining creative ideas and ventures that share and enhance the dynamic spirit of our surrounding community.
5. To use the arts and aesthetic experiences as vehicles for the enhancement of a vibrant social and community life by creating a shared experience based on a stimulating habitat of interplay and fusion, reciprocity, participation, engagement.
6. To raise consciousness about environmental justice and environmental discrimination, and how they relate to and affect the NYC Latino experience.
7. To build a democratic ethos and a democratic intention based on assets already existing within the community.
1. Welcoming and receptive atmosphere.
2. Uniqueness without elitism.
3. Working-class DIY spirit and immigrant self-reliant ethos.
4. Collaborative practice approach to social experience.
5. Inter-generational and inter-ethnic dialogue.
6. Displacement Prevention.
7. Emphasize the creative, re-creative and performative aspects of experience.