History | Yonkers | Latino Communities
As the numbers of Latinos in Yonkers began to increase in the late 1960s, it became clear that newcomers needed help with language, education, and access to health services. Many Latinos encountered discrimination or misunderstandings in some form, especially in housing and employment. There were various landlord-tenant complaints and reports of some Spanish families being put out on the street.
Father Antonio Sagrista of St. Peter's Church was instrumental in bringing community representatives together to found the Spanish Community Progress Foundation. Originally operating out of a small Riverdale Avenue storefront in the late 1960s, the group was incorporated in 1970 and has since become a vital link to direct social service aid for the Latino community. SCPF provides valuable community services in terms of referrals, housing, employment, welfare, translation services, help with immigration, courts, school system, etc. They also sponsor a Hispanic Senior Citizens Program and reach out to serve Hispanic youngsters through educational tutoring and youth programs.
Another active community group in the 1970s was the Puerto Rican Community Council, which sponsored "Escuela Hogar En Accion" - a free tutoring and counseling program, with recreation and summer lunch programs for the southwest Yonkers neighborhood. The program lost its federal funding in 1973 when Nixon cut the Office of Economic Opportunity programs. The founder of the Council, Carmen Gonzalez, worked with the SCPF to establish the Puerto Rican Parade in the late 1970s. The parade was formally incorporated in 1980 and has become a celebration for all of the Latino ethnic groups in Yonkers.