Carmen Rubio, a tenant organizer for Good Old Lower East Side, and a longtime neighborhood
activist, died Nov. 24 after a long illness. She was 63.
Born in the Bronx, Rubio moved to the Lower East Side as a child and lived there for the rest of her life,
eventually settling in the Umbrella House squat with her partner, musician Alfredo Feliciano. She helped
organize tenants in squats, city-owned, and TIL buildings; built community gardens; and was active
in the welfare-rights movement. “She was involved in every single aspect of the community,” said
Wasim Lone, director of organizing at GOLES, where Rubio worked for the last 12 years.
“She always had a positive attitude and radiated love,” said Church of Stop Shopping choir singer
Barbara Lee, a former neighbor of Rubio’s at Umbrella House.
“Among the many gifts she gave to the community on the Lower East Side is the Children’s Magical
Garden, a once rubble-strewn lot that she and her life partner, Alfredo Feliciano, transformed into a
beautiful space for the children of the community,” said Eric Goldhagen of the ABC No Rio community
center. “Carmen will be remembered fondly by the thousands of people she helped save from eviction,
the children who played in the garden, the youth that learned Super-8 movie-making from her at ABC No
Rio, and, I imagine, even a few of the landlords that learned, from the opposing side of the table, to
respect her spirit and honesty.”
“She was just an amazing woman,” said Lone. “She was a quintessential Lower East Sider, culturally,
politically, and in every way.”
Reprinted with permission from Tenant/Inquilino, the Metropolitan Council on Housing’s monthly
newspaper. A memorial service for Carmen Rubio will be held Dec. 14 at St. Mark’s Church, Second
Avenue and East Tenth Street.