Bed-Stuy nonprofit fights to save community safe haven
A Bet-Study nonprofit is fighting to save a community safe haven and home to its 174-year-old group.
The 87 Macdonough St. mansion is the home of The United Order of Tents Eastern District #3, an organization dedicated to serving Black women. It was constructed in 1863 and purchased by The Tents in 1945.
The history of the Tents began with helping to free enslaved Black people. Later, the group evolved into an organization of sisters dedicated to being a backbone to the community.
Once a secret society because New York didn't permit operation, the Tents are now an established nonprofit.
The group should be exempt from paying the mansion’s property taxes, but lawyers representing the group say the city’s Department of Finance has determined the building to be vacant.
"It's not vacant. this is an active space they use to carry out their mission,” said Taylor James, senior staff attorney of the Legal Aid Society. "Why would a nonprofit that's providing so much good for the community members in Bed-Stuy be displaced?"
The women in the nonprofit have secretly met in the mansion for decades, but now they are telling everyone they meet about their work.
"We have the strength; we just have a little hiccup, and we just need the government officials to see our value,” said Akosua Levine, deputy of the United Order of Tents Eastern District. "We have a legacy that must continue, not can, we must continue. The only thing that we're asking for is justice. Do the right thing, so that we can continue to serve our community. That's all that we're praying for."
The group is now raising money for renovations for the mansion, and they are recruiting new members.