(FinalCall.com) – For more than 20 years, the Queen Mother Moore International House has provided a range of services to the Black community in Harlem. Named after the mother of the Reparations Movement, Audley Moore, the building is now under threat of foreclosure for failure to pay over $400,000 in back taxes.
“We’re fighting to keep our building,” Dr. Delois Blakely told The Final Call. “Eight of Harlem’s neediest families living on fixed incomes are about to lose their homes. This is a tax problem because of an improper assessment by the city.”
The building was acquired in 1979 as a result of homesteading efforts by her non-profit organization, New Futures Foundation Inc. In 1982, the building became a gift to Harlem residents as a source of much-needed affordable senior housing, through an arrangement with the New York City Housing Preservation Development (HPD) and Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC).
“We took an eyesore and made it into something for this community. No one was interested in this building but us. Now that we have refurbished the property and it is no longer abandoned and a blight to the Harlem community, after 26 years serving as affordable housing through the work of New Future Foundation, they want the building back,” she said.
Dr. Blakely is asking the community for its support to help them keep the building to continue providing services and a home to seniors. The issue has reached the attention of City Council member Charles Barron (D).
“I would do anything to protect the integrity and work of Queen Mother Moore,” he told The Final Call. “At present, I am investigating the claims of Dr. Delois Blakely.”
While the issue is under investigation, Dr. Blakely is mounting a fundraising campaign to pay the taxes once a proper assessment is rendered in her opinion.
“On behalf of the residents, I, Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, president of New Future Foundation, am calling on you to lend your generous financial support to us by creating a $3 million endowment, to be managed by New Future Foundation, to maintain the property in perpetuity. This would give the residents control over their lives in ways consistent with the vision of Alexander Hamilton (the property is located on his former grange) and Queen Mother Audley Moore,” Dr. Blakely wrote in a letter to supporters.
“Queen Mother’s energy is here, her artifacts are here and this was the headquarters for her operation. We must save this building.”
Audley “Queen Mother” Moore was a nationalist leader whose work spanned the time of Marcus Garvey to Nelson Mandela. Harlem was her home and she was a Harlem hero as the elder stateswoman of Black Nationalism.
She was a great public speaker, organizer and leader. For over 60 years, she was connected to causes that advanced her people. One of her last appearances was at the Million Man March in 1995 where she appeared with Reverend Jesse Jackson.
According to Associated Press, former New York mayor David Dinkins, the city’s first Black mayor who grew up in Harlem, said Queen Mother Moore was “an inspiration to a lot of Blacks, especially Black women. She was always supportive and inspirational to me. She was always in my corner.”
She died in 1996 at the age of 98.