The American Dream Is Not Dead

The American Dream Is Not Dead

By Alexander H. Roberts

Executive Director, Community Housing Innovations

Pictured: Javier Chavarro outside the Waterwheel Condominium in Ardsley 

WHITE PLAINS, NY – April 24, 2017 – Javier Chavarro is living the dream, a powerful reminder of what an immigrant can do with hard work and a little help.  He and his family just moved into Community Housing Innovations’ newest affordable housing development in Ardsley, called the Waterwheel Condominium. Born in Colombia, Javier grew up in the Bronx.  His wife Sonia was also born in Colombia, but when their son Sebastian was born here, they did what most immigrants do, pour all of their heart and soul into their children.  The Chavarro’s are not wealthy.  He is a professional musician and graduate of the New School and New England Conservatory.  Sonia has an MBA from St. John’s and works in collections in Irvington.  Education debt added to their challenges, but they resolved to give Sebastian, a bright little boy, the best education they could afford. Javier’s brother, a doctor in Westchester, suggested six years ago that they move to Ardsley, which has one of the best school systems in the state.  But how? “There are only two multifamily apartment buildings in the entire village,” said Javier, “and we could only afford a single room.”  So, the three of them lived in a 500 square foot studio apartment for six years, sacrificing space for their child’s future.  And Sebastian did not disappoint them as he studied hard, becoming an honor student.  Now 14, he ranks among the top in his class at Ardsley High School. Two years ago, the Chavarro’s were approved for one of the 22 affordable condominiums co-developed by CHI and Architectura. “Every day since, when we took Sebastian to school,” said Chavarro, “we would pause for a few minutes to look at our future home.” They moved in this month, realizing the goal for which all three had worked so hard. The family is supremely grateful to the village of Ardsley for allowing them the chance to achieve the American Dream.  CHI is grateful for the opportunity to have helped develop the project, which could not have proceeded without the village itself, and especially Mayor Jay Leon.  When the school district talked about a potential “burden” of children, Mayor Leon spoke eloquently of the obligation of Westchester’s richest communities to provide affordable housing. Thanks also go to our partners in the Waterwheel, Architectura and the Housing Action Council, the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation and County Executive Robert Astorino, whose administration fought hard to overcome many political hurdles. “I am especially proud,” said Javier, “that my son is bringing up the test scores in Ardsley.”   About Community Housing Innovations Founded in 1991, Community Housing Innovations, Inc. is a nonprofit affordable housing and social services agency serving Westchester, the Hudson Valley and Long Island. CHI provides housing and human services that support social and economic independence. Programs include emergency and transitional housing, permanent housing, homeownership counseling, education, and down payment assistance, foreclosure prevention education, and development of fair and affordable housing. For more information on CHI, visit