Flushing organization voices concerns over transitional housing project, citing lack of transparency and community input – QNS.com

Flushing United, a newly formed organization of community and business leaders, is seeking answers on a transitional housing project in the community, as they presented a 50,000-signature petition expressing concerns about the development at a conference press conference held on Tuesday 18 January. .

Members of the organization say they are concerned about the proposed $440 million taxpayer-funded deal entered into by New York’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to transform 39-03 College Point Blvd. in transitional housing.

The project is led by Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) in partnership with the Urban Resource Institute (URI), which plans to construct a 90-unit building that will provide on-site services to help Asian families with children in need. .

Dr. George Liu, president of the Coalition for Asian American IPA (CAIPA), said the community has raised concerns about the project and there are still many unanswered questions.

“We want to make sure this project is right for Flushing with good communication and community input,” Liu said.

Sir Gary Kong, president of the American Chinese Empowerment Association, said “questions remain as to whether or not the project is the best use of taxpayers’ money given the high price tag of $440 million reported for shelter,” while many members of the Asian community are still struggling financially to get through the pandemic.

Lawyer LanTao Sun, vice president of the Beijing Association of New York, and his colleague sent a letter with 10 questions to affiliated organizations in the hope of establishing much-needed communication, he said.

“To date, we have received no response from either party. There is clearly a lack of transparency and accountability,” Sun said.

In a recent interview with QNS, AAFE co-executive director Jennifer Sun addressed the misinformation about the project, reiterating that the facility is not a homeless shelter and will serve as temporary housing offering a safe environment, stability and support for families during their work. transition to permanent affordable housing.

“We have always communicated that this project is not a homeless shelter – it is transitional housing specifically for families with children. Categorizing this project as a homeless shelter is a woefully inaccurate and inadequate description for all that transitional housing for families with children provides,” Sun said in a statement to QNS after the Flushing United press conference.

According to Sun, transitional housing is a proven method of not only providing essential housing for families with children, but also a sense of normalcy and hope for families in Flushing.

A rendering of the proposed residential building for 39-03 College Point Blvd. in Flushing (photo courtesy of Urban Architectural Initiatives)

AAFE’s Transitional Housing Project will provide on-site services such as job training and placement support, tutoring, after-school programs for children, individual case management and counseling to help each family find permanent accommodation.

The project includes 90 units that will each have a private kitchen, bathroom and living space, so families can experience an apartment living environment.

“Housing stability is undoubtedly an urgent need, and the families this project will serve may not be fortunate enough to afford even the city’s affordable housing systems due to the loss of jobs due to the pandemic, loss of housing due to Hurricane Ida, or other circumstances beyond their control. — as is the case with many victims of domestic violence,” Sun said.

In response to the development cost, Sun said the final contract for the project is still in progress and a percentage breakdown of the costs has not been made public as the cost is still under review.

According to Sun, while the cost of the $440 million project was disclosed in November 2021 in a public notice, that figure alone can be misleading.

$440 million is the current projected budget which includes much more than just construction. The cost includes land acquisition, initial construction, operating costs and maintenance over a 40-year period,” Sun said. “This means that the cost takes into account individual services and staff, including the salaries of social workers who help guide tenants to permanent table accommodation, and resident necessities such as bedding and pots and pans. This budget is a total amount expected to be spent over a period of 40 years.

AAFE receives support from Thomas Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, who said he supports the small business community throughout Queens.

“In addition to providing jobs for the construction of facilities like these, the community will benefit from long-term affordable housing to support the local workforce that is transforming post-COVID,” Grech said.

Representatives of Congresswoman Grace Office of Meng, Senator John Liu and Advisor Sandra Ung attended the January 18 press conference and called for more community input for the planned development. Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who recently met with DHS and Flushing United, said she found there were many unanswered questions and unresolved issues with the project.

The project has been put on hold as AAFE coordinates with city officials to address community concerns and provide more education and understanding of the project’s benefits, Sun said.

“We at Asian Americans for Equality continue to engage in conversations with business leaders to ensure there is transitional housing in Flushing for families with children in need,” Sun said. “We want to make sure we hear the concerns of the local community and businesses and can serve the Flushing community together.

The three parties involved in the transitional housing project will participate in the Community Board 7 virtual meeting to be held on Monday, January 24 at 7 p.m. to discuss the project.

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