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The ANHD Blog raises the profile of our issues, and educates our member groups, city decision makers, and the general public on our core issue areas. The ANHD Blog offers sharp, timely and effective commentary on key public policy issues, as well as our work and the work of our member groups.

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In Memoriam: David Pagan, a lion of the community development movement

September 21, 2016

The ANHD family mourns the loss of David Pagan, who passed away yesterday after a short illness. David was a lion of the community development movement in New York City, leading the Los Sures community development group on the Southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn from its early days in the 1970s until his retirement in 2010. David’s life, and the impact of his work and leadership in Williamsburg and in the community development movement across New York City, has been extraordinary.

In Memoriam

David Pagan, September 24th, 1943 – September 20th, 2016

david-pagan-photo

The ANHD family mourns the loss of David Pagan, who passed away yesterday after a short illness. David was a lion of the community development movement in New York City, leading the Los Sures community development group on the Southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn from its early days in the 1970s until his retirement in 2010. David’s life, and the impact of his work and leadership in Williamsburg and in the community development movement across New York City, has been extraordinary. David was a founding member of the ANHD Board, and his vision and values shape our work to this day. David Pagan arrived in New York City from his native Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, in 1956. He grew up in the Williamsburg and Bushwick sections of Brooklyn. After attending New York City Community College, he was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam as an infantryman in the Air Cavalry Division. When he returned, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from Queens College and later a Master’s degree in Finance from St. John’s University. David was a neighborhood and social activist at heart, and he was quickly drawn to the struggles in his own part of Brooklyn. The Southside of Williamsburg, like many neighborhoods across New York City in the 1970s and 80s, suffered from disinvestment and abandonment as entire communities were written off by banks, developers, and even the government. But these neighborhoods were not written off by their residents. The community residents who started Los Sures were responding to this epidemic of abandonment, and to the property owners who were trying to vacate their buildings in order to intentionally change the ethnic composition of the neighborhood. Under David’s leadership, Los Sures fought back by promoting community-based control of housing, through both management and ownership. In 1975, Los Sures became the first community-based organization to enter into agreements to manage City-owned properties. A few years later, it was one of the first groups to undertake large-scale rehabilitation. Today, Los Sures is regarded as a pioneer in both the management and development of affordable housing. As the neighborhood turned around, for-profit developers started speculating that the improvements that neighborhood residents had fought so hard to achieve could be a springboard for gentrification. In response, Los Sures dedicated itself to educating and organizing tenants facing displacement pressure. Ramon Peguero, the Executive Director of Los Sures, remembers David this way: I worked as David’s Deputy Director for five years, and I always looked forward to our early morning conversations, before staff started to trickle in. He was a wealth of information, and I wanted to absorb as much as possible knowing that he planned to retire and may not be as available to me later on. The one thing that David always said that stuck with me was, “I’d rather have 10% of something than 100% of nothing.” That opened me up to the understanding that dialogue, communication and relationships were extremely important to move the organization forward. It taught me that we were not going to win every single fight and get everything we requested, but as long as we were moving forward, we were on the right path. I interpreted those words to mean, negotiate and create common ground with others; to look beyond your differences and focus on the things you could agree on to bring about positive results. David was a mentor and a friend who will be dearly missed.   A wake for David Pagan will be held on Thursday, September 22nd, from 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM at the Arlington Benson Dowd Funeral Home, located at 83-15 Parsons Blvd, in Jamaica, NY. The funeral will be held on Friday at the Calverton National Cemetery.

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