The South Bronx of New York City is a Third World situation within the U.S.A.
It is an area that evidences the physical effects of an earthquake, where none actually occurred. Buildings have been burned, abandoned, and vandalized.
Non-resident landlords’ greed and the insurance arsonists’ torches have combined to create, where just a generation ago there existed a prospering community, many poor and needy people.
Thirty percent of the eligible work force is unemployed. In 1976, one out of three people were on welfare. The infant mortality rate of 25/1000 is higher than that of Vietnam, Venezuela, and North Korea; the homicide rate is 0.49 per 1000 (compared to the New York City average of 0.19 per 1000). The average income is about 40% of the national average. In the South Bronx ambulance response time to an emergency 911 call is 45 minutes to an hour — if they come at all.
Bill Barto: When Jimmy Carter was elected President of the U.S. in 1976, one of his first domestic commitments was to rebuild the South Bronx. He stood at 172nd and Charlotte Avenue and declared the neglected and ravaged area that stretched from the Bronx Zoo past Crotona Park settling somewhere just below 167th Street would be rebuilt by community development groups and sweat equity organizations. Plenty contacted one such group, The Peoples Development Corporation (PDC) soon after a PBS show, “The Bronx is Burning,” a story on the state of emergency medical service in New York City and the South Bronx in particular. Following the report, and discussions with PDC members, Plenty made the decision to send a medical ambulance team, a midwife, a construction crew, a ham radio operator, plus their families to establish a Plenty Center in the South Bronx, in an area where the PDC had established claim. The Plenty crew of 52 men, women, and children would move from the Tennessee Farm, in the summer of 1977. The main goal was to set up, operate, and administer a free ambulance service to the 600,000 residents of the South Bronx.