Where Are the Men in Their Thirties?

At the corner of 229th and Laconia Streets in the Bronx, the police precinct office faces a cluster of buildings mostly three-stories tall known as the Edenwald Houses. The Edenwald Houses, along with the nearby Eastchester Gardens, were the target this past April of what the U.S. Attorney trumpeted as the “largest gang takedown in New York City history.” One hundred and thirteen people were indicted, mostly young men in their twenties.

Which is a worrying figure, given that the number of young men living in the area was already disproportionately low. According to Census data, for every two male teenagers in the area, there is only one man in his late thirties. The problem is a stark example of a trend taking place throughout the Bronx, where for every three male teenagers, there are two men in their late thirties.

Michael Mincey, who first moved to the Edenwald Houses when he was 4, believed that men caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of gang activity and aggressive policing are facing particular pressures to move out of the area. “Honestly, if I were to have a kid with somebody, would I want to raise him here? No,” said Mincey, 36, an administrator at the East Bronx Academy for the Future. “I don’t want to worry about getting shot. And I don’t want to worry that, because I’m hanging outside with a friend that I know, I might get caught in a big sweep because the cops think we’re selling drugs.”