Menu

A Good Neighbor: Carmen Rubio, 63, Lower East Side Activist

Steven Wishnia Dec 9, 2005

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.