Volume 75, Number 28 | Nov. 30 - Dec. 06, 2005


Carmen Rubio, 66, housing activist helped organize dozens of tenements

Villager photo by Bob Arihood

A photo of Carmen Rubio at a memorial for her on Avenue C

By Albert Amateau

Carmen Rubio, a neighborhood activist on the Lower East Side and for more than 10 years a staff member with GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side), died at her home on Avenue C on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24 at the age of 66.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, but continued working until recently, said Alfredo Feliciano, a musician who has been her partner for 23 years.

“She helped organize dozens of tenements and helped residents in TIL buildings [in the city Tenant Interim Lease program] organize low-income co-ops,” said Demaris Reyes, GOLES executive director.

“She educated tenants to understand what their rights were and she went to Housing Court with them,” Reyes added.

A memorial shrine with photos, candles and flowers in front of her residence at 21 Avenue C attracted a crowd of friends on Sat. Nov. 26 who paid tribute to Rubio’s service to the neighborhood.

“We moved to a squat in this building 11 years ago and she worked with GOLES to make it legal,” Feliciano said. “But her main thing was the gardens — which was completely voluntary. She taught art to kids, took them to museums, taught them about gardens,” Feliciano said. He recalled meeting Rubio in 1982 when he was organizing tenants in a building at Stanton and Norfolk Sts. to demand a park be built in a vacant crack-ridden lot.

Born in the Bronx, Rubio attended the Art Students’ League and worked as a dentist’s assistant when she moved to Manhattan, Feliciano said. “She was really a Buddhist and wanted to be cremated, but she didn’t get around to writing a will. The city is giving us a bad time about releasing her body and they won’t take my word because we were never legally married,” Feliciano said on Mon. Nov. 28.

Nevertheless, friends and colleagues are planning a memorial service for the middle of December at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, the exact time to be announced later.

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