Stephanie Chavous misses the block’s elders.
“A lot of the older people are only leaving because they feel like they have to.”
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Stephanie Chavous, 50Current Owner, Babysitter
Lives with: Her brother
Moved from: After growing up in the house with her mother, stepfather, and 11 siblings and stepsiblings, she and her brother bought the building from a realty corporation in 2002 for $316,000.
You have people that’s been on this block for years before I got here. And now they’re selling their house. And I’m like, “Why?”
“Oh, my kids are grown and I don’t want it no more. It’s a big old house.”
“Rent it out! Why sell it? Just rent it out. Your house is paid for. Rent it out, and make that money.” A lot of the older people are only leaving because they feel like they have to.
There was an older couple that used to live on the block — the Campbells. They basically joined the youth together. Ms. Campbell would say, “It’s spring, let’s clean around the trees and pull up the weeds.” And we’d go out there and do that with her. And she would feed us. We got unified that way.
Ms. White, she was the oldest person on the block. You had to respect her. She always came out like it was the early 1900s with her long gowns. I don’t care if she was just going to the corner store: She was dressed, her was hair done up. The bouffant.
They used to honor the seniors on the block. They had a night program for them. They don’t do that anymore. People don’t understand: That’s history. It was always, if you see them struggling outside with a bag, you help them, no matter what. It was just that unity.
It’s hard to say why that went away. Everybody that comes now, they’re friendly, everybody speaks. So it’s not like much of a difference; it’s just not that closeness anymore. The older people stuck to keeping the block association going. Okay, we’re meeting on this day. If two people show up, two people show up, but we’re meeting. Now it’s like pulling teeth to get people out. And if you’re not talking about what they want to hear, they’re not coming out.
Before, when somebody died on the block, everybody knew. Now if someone passes, you don’t know unless you happen to see someone who says, “Such-and-such passed.”
Interviews by: DW Gibson, Christopher Pomorski, and Kim Velsey. Photographs by: Francis Agyapong for New York Magazine. Additional reporting by: Katie Levingston, Kiannah Sepeda-Miller, Eleanor Shanahan, Danielle Smith, Manuela Tobias, and James Walsh. Edited by: Genevieve Smith. Production: Sarah Caldwell and Abraham Riesman. Design and Development: Leslie Shapiro, Sarah Ruddy, and Kristen Dudish.