Melrose Mott Haven Senior Center reopens following years of neglect and months of repairs

Seniors enjoy the grand reopening of the Melrose Mott Haven Senior Center at a June 3 gathering attended by City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca.
Photo Adrian Childress

After shuttering for 10 months due to leaks, a broken HVAC system, rotting ceiling tiles, mold and vermin infestation, the Melrose Mott Haven Senior Center has reopened.

In August 2021, U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres and City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca held a press conference where they called on NYCHA to make immediate repairs. For the past few years, the center, located at 372 E. 152nd St., has fallen into disarray and NYCHA has done nothing to remediate the situation, according to tenants and elected officials.

Rotting ceiling tiles caused by rainwater and second floor leaks in the center’s main room rendered the space unusable, exposing overhead wiring in the process. The center’s HVAC system, overrun by vermin, caused the center’s air conditioning unit to malfunction, eliminating its ability to serve as a vital cooling center during sweltering summer heatwaves.

Gaping holes in ceiling tiles illustrate the level of neglect at the Melrose Mott Haven Senior Center that left the facility closed for nearly a year. Photo Adrian Childress

On June 3, the seniors were joined by Salamanca as they held a grand reopening celebration with food, music and dancing. The city repaired the center’s ceiling, floors, lunchroom, kitchen and office space, and seniors can now enjoy meals, case assistance, programs and recreation activities.

“It’s about time,” Salamanca told the Bronx Times. “It took too long. We put pressure on NYCHA. This should have been remodeled years ago.”

Milagro Camacho and her friend Betty have both been frequenting the facility for several years and were disappointed when it shuttered. They described the center as a warm welcoming place with great staff where everyone always enjoys themselves. While they went to other senior centers during the pandemic, the duo is pleased theirs is now available.

“It’s a place we look forward to going to every day,” Betty said.

Reach Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (646) 899-8058. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes