Ecumenical Community Development Organization is a not for profit organization dedicated to formulate and implement plans and projects that improve the housing, social, and economic conditions of low and moderate income residents and businesses of the West and Central Harlem communities. It is the organization’s goal to assist residents of West Harlem with a sense of community and a sense of personal empowerment. ECDO is committed to community revitalization as housing development has been its primary purpose until the organization expanded its role in the community. ECDO has broadened and diversified its scope of projects that includes tenant and community organizing, technical assistance to community residents and organizations, counseling, education, youth and adult employment programs and services.
In the basement of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine an idea was born by a group of concerned residents, neighborhood activists, community leaders and service providers. This group of citizens decided to form and organize a not-for-profit corporation whose primary objective would be to tackle "housing and community deterioration." As observers who loved, lived and worked in the community, known as West Harlem, these people as a group had a belief that the ongoing abandonment, deterioration and demolition of buildings in a community that was once thriving and viable could and must be stopped. They believed that more support was needed for neighborhood based housing initiatives and began the advocacy for the enhanced livability of their community.
In 1983 the Cathedral Housing Development Corporation was established to revitalize a declining housing community by formulating and implementing plans for the renewal, rehabilitation and new construction of residential buildings in the area surrounding the Cathedral. The organizations primary goal was to provide low and moderate income residents of the community with decent, safe affordable housing. Cathedral Housing Development Corporation hoped to accomplish these goals through a cooperative of local community organizations, religious and educational institutions. Thus, the organization’s name was officially changed to, Ecumenical Community Development Organization "ECDO".
ECDO cut the ribbon and opened the doors to its first inter-generation and special needs housing facility known as ECHO (Ecumenical Community Housing Organization) Apartments in 1991. Ironically, ECHO is located directly across the street from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Since then ECDO has developed affordable housing throughout West Harlem, Manhattanville, Hamilton and Morningside Heights. Today, ECDO is a multifaceted organization involved in a variety of community and city wide activities. ECDO has played in integral part in the formulation of a 197a Plan that was developed by Manhattan Community Board #9. While implementing the organization’s original goal and mission of "combating community deterioration," ECDO has organized and maintains active participation by holding memberships with numerous consortiums of housing advocacy and community service providers throughout the country. ECDO’s community services include tenant and community organizing, counseling, career training, and job placement assistance to youth and adult along with housing development. The idea of community unity and cooperation remains a prevalent part in each one of our programs, projects and overall organizational development.