State Senator Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), joined by about 100 parents, today proposed to build a permanent addition to Corona’s Public School 143, The Louis Armstrong Elementary School, to alleviate the chronic overcrowding at the facility. The new annex would replace the current mini-building and the six temporary classroom units (trailers).
“No child should be educated in a trailer,” Senator Peralta said. “Especially in 21st Century New York City, to have kids learning in trailers is just unthinkable and it must stop.”
Senator Peralta noted the area where the building would be constructed belongs to the Parks and Recreation Department. Senator Peralta has continually reached out to Parks, the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority starting two years ago asking the city agencies to work together and consider his proposal.
In response to the proposal, then Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm wrote: “We agree that one potential solution to the overcrowding at P.S. 143 would be to build a permanent addition on site where the mini-building and temporary classroom units (TCUs) are currently located. As you are aware, that land is owned by the Parks Department.”
Last April, in relation to the proposal to build a permanent addition to PS 143, the Parks Department wrote to Senator Peralta and said, “my staff has been in discussions with the School Construction Authority regarding the proposed school expansion that would result in the permanent elimination of a portion of a jointly-operated playground.” The Department added, “Parks and the SCA agreed to work together to address the open space requirements for the school and surrounding community should a permanent school annex be constructed.”
“As of today, there has been no response to the proposal and obviously no action has been taken,” Senator Peralta lamented. “I understand the need for recreational area, but PS 143 is atypical to schools in my community in that there is a good deal of open and recreational space on its grounds and immediately nearby.”
PS 143 was built for about 900 students, and today enrolls about 1,800. Because of this acute overcrowding, the first lunch period begins at 9.50 a.m.
“We, as parents, support Senator Peralta’s proposal. And if the new building becomes a reality, I am sure the academic achievements of our kids will improve because there would be less students per classroom,” said Angelica Salgado, mother of a first and third graders at PS 143 and president of the Parent-Teacher Association. “We need this annex. Our kids deserve better.”
“Our children deserve better,” Senator Peralta, member of the New York Senate Committee on Education, said. “I will not rest until there is a seat for every child. That is the least I can do to ensure that our kids are educated in a decent environment and not in run-down trailers. Good intentions are fine, but time has come to act. And again, I hope the Department of Education, the School Construction Authority and the Parks Department go beyond good words and make the proposal to build a permanent addition to PS 143 real.”
There were many unrelated items thrown into the Education Budget Bill that Senator Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) disagrees with, but his main reason for voting no on the Senate floor was because of the exclusion of the Dream Act, a measure that would make thousands of undocumented immigrant college students eligible for the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).
“Today is the birthday of the great labor leader César Chávez, and how appropriate, but yet sad, we have to talk about how decades later after his struggle, we still have to talk about the lack of dignity and the lack of respect for immigrants who came to this country to work hard and live the American Dream,” Senator Peralta said. “Here we go again. Another year, another budget that does not include the DREAM Act. This is beginning to look and sound like the movie Groundhog Day, in which the same day gets repeated over and over and over again. Another year of false fear mongering propaganda lead by the majority perpetuating an intolerant ideology that the sky will fall if we allow these undocumented kids to receive money from the Tuition Assistance program.”
“César Chávez would have turned 88, and to mark this day, dozens of CUNY and SUNY students ended the hunger strike they went on last week in an effort to have the DREAM Act included in this year’s budget. The DREAM Act is excluded from it, and for that reason, I am voting no on the education bill,” Senator Peralta said.
“I am sick and tired about being sick and tired of having my vote taken for granted, so therefore, I vote Nay,” said Senator Peralta on the Senate floor Wednesday night. “New York State and the DREAMers lost out here.”
Senator Peralta noted he lost the battle but not the war. “I call upon governor Andrew Cuomo to make the DREAM Act a priority as he said throughout this entire budget process. I call upon the Governor to keep his promise and use his political capital to ensure the DREAM Act is passed before the end of this session. When he put the DREAM Act in his executive budget it lit a spark in the eyes of every DREAMer. He sent an infusion of hope and inspiration, but yet much to the dismay of all those DREAMers, the DREAM Act was taken out of the budget. I was disappointed, infuriated and devastated by this move.”
“We rather give tax credits to the rich so they can buy a yacht or a plane, or both, and keep thousands of hard-working undocumented immigrants from receiving financial aid to help them pay for their college tuition costs and obtain their degree as a path to a better life,” Senator Peralta added. “We are just trying to help our kids go to college, work and pay taxes. In other words, we must pave the way so they too can live the American Dream.”
Senator Peralta said, “I anxiously anticipate the day when I open a newspaper or click on a link to an article with a headline that reads: New York Dream Act, after years of broken promises, is now a Reality. CUNY and SUNY DREAMers wake up from their long-lasting nightmare.”
State Senator Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), the lead sponsor of the Senate Dream Act bill in the Senate, said he was extremely disappointed and infuriated because the DREAM Act was taken out of the State’s budget. “It’s déjà vu all over again,” he said.
But Senator Peralta noted that who really lost today with this unfair and unjust action were New York State and the DREAMers. “New York State and the DREAMers have really lost out today, again. New York State because we had an opportunity to really live up to our distinction of being a state of innovators and progressive thinkers, and the DREAMers because they had hoped to attend and graduate college and pave the way for the next generation.”
Senator Peralta added, “I, as well as many others, were extremely disappointed, infuriated and devastated by this move.”
Senator Peralta blamed the Republicans for the exclusion of the DREAM Act from the budget. “Another year of false fear mongering propaganda led by the Senate majority, perpetuating an intolerant and xenophobic ideology that the sky will fall if we allow these undocumented kids to receive money from the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Republicans are just promoting lies,” Senator Peralta said.
The DREAM Act will cost up to $27 millions in an almost $142 billion budget. “To understand how illogical Republicans are on this issue, the Dream Act will pay for itself in a few years. And to translate into what it would cost to help undocumented college students for taxpayers, it amounts to 87 cents a year. You cannot even buy a cup of coffee with 87 cents,” Senator Peralta said.
Senator Peralta called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to use his political clout, just like he did with Marriage Equality, the Safe Act and even ethics reform. “I call upon the Governor to keep his promise and use his political capital to ensure that the DREAM Act is passed before the end of this session,” Senator Peralta said. “I will do anything in my power to help Governor Cuomo make the DREAM Act a reality and right a wrong for our DREAMers.”
Coexistence between street vendors and brick-and-mortar retailers is critical to the social and economic development of our neighborhoods and communities. This is why State Senator Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) introduced a bill in the Senate calling for the creation of a street vendor policy commission to modernize the regulation that govern street vending.
“Street vendors and mom-and-pop stores sustain families and are a established fixture and essential parts of our communities,” Senator Peralta said. “I strongly believe street vendors and brick-and-mortar businesses can peacefully coexist. My bill calls for a revamped Street Vendor Review Panel that includes all stakeholders to study the problems and provide recommendations.”
Senator Peralta noted, “Nobody is happy with the current system. Local residents complain, street vendors complain, small retailers complain. The system is in disarray. A decade of inaction on issues surrounding street vendors has highlighted the urgent need for reform.”
Senator Peralta said the commission to regulate street vending would be composed of nine members: five representing relevant city agencies (director of the Department of City Planning or designee; commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs or designee; commissioner Department of Transportation or designee; commissioner of the Department of Small Business services or designee; and the commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or designee), two members representing street vendors’ interests, and two members representing the interests of small business owners.
The street vendor policy commission would evaluate and make recommendations, among other subjects, on the following:
Lifting the caps on street vendor permits;
Establishing a mechanism to rescind licenses of those who illegally rent out credentials;
Creating zoning regulations and structures to reduce sidewalk and street congestion;
Create a letter grading system for the street vendors similar to that of the restaurants;
Reducing fines for minor violations and focus on serious health, safety, traffic and sanitation violations; and
Establishing a mediation process in which street vendors and business owners can resolve conflicts.
“Leaving the system as is will only lead to more frustration. Inaction is not an option, and establishing a street vendor policy commission with a clear mandate would go a long way to regulate the system,” Senator Peralta said. The Senator’s district includes Roosevelt Avenue from 75th to 114th streets, a stretch filled with mom-and-pop operations, streets vendors, and vehicle and foot traffic.
State Senator Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said today it was unacceptable that Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering removing the DREAM Act from the State’s $141 billion budget. Senator Peralta said he was extremely disappointed about this possibility, especially after the Governor argued in favor of making the Dream Act a reality during the Somos El Futuro Conference that took place in Albany this past weekend.
“Majority leader Dean Skelos has turned his back on addressing the current injustice in our state’s student aid financial assistance program,” Senator Peralta said. “It’s déjà vu all over again. Another year and the same outcome thanks to the intolerant views perpetuated by the Senate majority. They rather promote fear mongering propaganda that the sky will fall if we, as a State, help the children of undocumented immigrants to obtain a higher education.”
Senator Peralta continued, “it seems to me that New York is no longer the land of opportunity for these hard-working college students because instead of enabling them to succeed, we just added more hurdles to their paths.”
Senator Peralta noted, “The DREAM Act would have leveled the playing field for all of our college students regardless of their immigration status. Extending TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) to our DREAMers would not only provide an opportunity to thousands of hard-working young new Yorkers, but also create jobs, boost future tax revenue, and give our state the kind of diverse, educated, multi-talented workforce we will need to compete in tomorrow’s economy.”
“With this potential action, I understand New York does not want to follow in the footsteps of California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and Washington State,” Senator Peralta said. “These states already provide state college aid to undocumented immigrants, but New York does not want to right a wrong by offering all of our immigrant college students basic financial aid. “I will not give up the fight until we ensure that our DREAM becomes the reality it should be. This is unacceptable.”
Senator Peralta added, “I call on the Governor to reconsider the possibility of dropping the DREAM Act from the budget and help our DREAMers.”
State Senator Jose Peralta today announced that the reward for information leading to the arrest of Brandee Massey’s killer has been doubled, to $12,000, after securing commitments from Food Bazaar Supermarkets, which is contributing $4,000, and Queens Center, which will donate $2,000.
The pregnant Massey was shot the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving in her LeFrak City apartment building. Her baby was later delivered, but died within hours.
On the heels of the murder, Senator Peralta announced he was offering a $2,000 reward for information about the shooting and that he had secured a matching donation from the LeFrak City Organization. Added to the police department’s $2,000, the total reward stood at $6,000. The contributions announced today raise the total to $12,000.
“This community has come together not just to mourn Brandee’s tragic loss, but to help bring justice to her family,” Senator Peralta said. “Food Bazaar Supermarkets and Queens Center have deep roots in this community and understand that the most important thing we can do right now for the Massey family is to help law enforcement bring Brandee’s killer to justice and make whoever is responsible pay for this brutal crime.”
The owners of Food Bazaar Supermarkets said that, “We at Food Bazaar Supermarkets are stunned and saddened to hear about the fatal shooting of Brandee Anastasia Massey and her child. The Food Bazaar Supermarket chain has been a part of this community since 1988 and would like to pledge its support for information leading to the arrest of Brandee’s killer. We are offering $4,000. We hope that this will help those people who know something step forward and help justice be served on behalf of this young woman, her child and her grieving family.
In statement, Queens Center Mall said that, “The Queens Center family extends its deepest condolences to the Massey family. We thank Senator Peralta for his leadership at this difficult time and hope that our contribution to the reward will help bring a measure of consolation to Brandee’s loved ones.”
Anyone with information is urged to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers, at (800) 577-TIPS, or text to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIPS577. A tipster's cell phone number will not be displayed or traced. A tip can also be submitted online, at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.
"The good news is that millions of upstanding, hardworking undocumented immigrants will now be able to continue contributing to our economy without having to live and work in fear of deportation.
"The bad news is that millions of other upstanding, hardworking undocumented immigrants will remain in the shadows of our economy and society.
"President Obama is to be applauded for taking a strong first step toward long-overdue reform of our broken immigration system. Like the president, we in New York should not wait on Congress to make additional necessary repairs.
"The DREAM Act is sensible, compassionate public policy. It is the law in Texas, a red state, California, a blue state, and New Mexico, a purple state. Here, the New York DREAM Act is supported by editorial boards throughout the state, including those at newspapers as different as the New York Post, The New York Times and the Daily News.
"Let’s follow the bipartisan example of the five states that have already passed a DREAM Act. Let's collaborate in New York on making an investment in our young people, our economy and our state’s future that will pay for itself several times over."
“Published reports and a City Council hearing today are shining a long overdue light on NYCHA’s broken system for providing emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence.
“It is a travesty to require women to risk their lives to produce the paperwork needed to qualify for emergency housing—and then not provide that housing.
“The expansion of the list of crimes that would not require a second documented instance of abuse is a welcome change, but more needs to be done to protect those who are unable to go to the police in the first place.”
“I have introduced a bill that would enable domestic violence victims to be considered for emergency NYCHA housing without having to first contact authorities and put themselves in danger of retribution from their batterers.
“What my bill can’t do is make NYCHA cut wait times of as long as 10 years. That is something NYCHA needs to address.
“The many advocates for domestic violence victims who support my bill do so because the lack of safe, affordable, permanent housing is one of the biggest impediments victims face in their effort to escape an abusive environment. NYCHA has taken a small first step toward cutting red tape for victims, but much, much more needs to be done to fix the system.”
Thirty-five employers conducted more than 800 interviews, hired 16 applicants on the spot and scheduled close to another 200 meetings with candidates they met at a job fair Thursday in Elmhurst sponsored by State Senator Jose Peralta in conjunction with Queens Center.
“We were able to help some people still struggling to make ends meet on the heels of the Great Recession,” said Senator Peralta. “From past experience, I expect that a number of others will also end up getting offers in the near future as a result of the interviews they scheduled and contacts they made at the job fair.”
More than 1,000 job seekers turned out for the fair, held at the Queens Center. In addition to employers such as the Coca Cola Company, Time Warner Cable and United Parcel Service, the New York State Department of Labor and non-profit organizations were on hand to provide career counseling, as well résumé writing and interview preparation advice.
The fair was held at the Food Court, located on the lower level of the JC Penney wing of the Queens Center.
"And clearly there is the political will for campaign financing, but not for helping young immigrants get a college degree.
“Senate Republicans argued against using tax dollars for campaign financing, just as they had previously argued against spending tax revenue on the DREAM Act.
"But whereas the Senate’s house budget features campaign financing, it excludes the DREAM Act, kicking to the curb, yet again, the hopes and aspirations of young people whose zeal to live, work, pay taxes and prosper in this great country is being held against them.
"I am happy about the inclusion of campaign financing, which I wholeheartedly support. I am deeply disappointed and frustrated by the exclusion of the DREAM Act.
"I call on the governor and my Republican Senate colleagues to seize the opportunitywe have here in New York to build on the growing national consensus around theneed for immigration reform and the obvious economic benefits of doing right by our young people.”
"Finally making prekindergarten truly universal and adding charters calls for more school buildings. Lots of them. In my district, schools aren't equipped to meet the demand for kindergarten seats, let alone offer prekindergarten to every eligible child. School overcrowding has been severe here decades.
"In a place as densely populated as New York City, space for classrooms, or anything else, is hard to come by and expensive.
"But whether we want to expand prekindergarten, add charters or finally relieve the suffocating overcrowding that has long plagued my community's schools, we have no choice but to find the space and the money to pay for it.
"Accuse me of stating the obvious, but this seems to be an especially good time to again plead the case for more classrooms."
“Washington is on the verge of becoming the fourth state to provide college financial aid to undocumented immigrants, after the legislature there last night passed the state’s own DREAM Act with strong bi-partisan support.
“Here in New York, making the DREAM Act a reality will also require support across conferences. Fortunately, there is a growing consensus among business, labor and Republican and Democratic leaders across the country, both on the need for immigration reform and the obvious economic benefits of reform. We saw evidence of that last night in Washington.
“That consensus is building because of the growing recognition that the DREAM Act is an investment in the workforce of tomorrow that would pay for itself many times over in increased tax revenues; and that with the demand for higher-skilled workers increasing, it only makes sense to encourage our young people to pursue higher education
“There is also an increasing realization that the young people who would benefit from the DREAM Act are as American as Thanksgiving. They arrived at an early age and don’t know any country but the United States. Their hearts are here and so are there futures.
“Let’s help them better provide for themselves and their families, contribute more to the economy and fully integrate into the American mainstream.”
"Senator Ball’s overheated anti-immigrant rhetoric stands in stark contrast with the view of many in law enforcement.
"Senator Ball seems not to be aware that municipal IDs have been used for years in cities from New Haven, Connecticut, to San Francisco, California, where they have greatly improved cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
"He also seems unaware that all immigrant driver’s licenses, including the one I have proposed in New York and those already in place in 11 states and Washington D.C., must be clearly distinguishable and meet with the approval of the Department of Homeland Security.
"With municipal ID’s and driver’s licenses, undocumented immigrants today would be able to better provide for their families, contribute more to the economy and fully integrate into the American mainstream, just as generations of immigrants to this country have before them.
"Lumping these hard-working immigrants in with terrorists is the worst kind of irresponsible."
With holiday shopping bills coming due, State Senator Jose Peralta is cautioning consumers to keep an eye out for unauthorized or suspicious transactions on their bank and credit card statements and is introducing legislation to help law enforcement crack down on “21st Century” organized crime activity.
Identity theft and the confiscation of personal information, such as bank PINs, are not "seasonal" crimes, but they occur with greater frequency during periods of increased financial activity—like the Christmas shopping season.
Gangs are becoming more involved in these and other white-collar crimes, such as bank fraud, credit card fraud, money laundering, counterfeiting and mortgage fraud, according to the FBI's National Gang Intelligence Center, which identifies New York and Florida as the twin epicenters of this troubling new development in organized crime.
“Despite the increasing prominence of these crimes, the law used in New York to prosecute gangs and organized crime organizations does not include a wide variety of cyber and identity crimes,” Senator Peralta said. “That’s not surprising considering that when the Enterprise Corruption Statute was passed in 1986, pagers were the cutting-edge personal technology of the day and the identity theft law did not even exist.”
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, who worked closely with Senator Peralta in drafting the legislation, said, “Those committing the crimes of identity theft are well-organized enterprises that inflict economic harm on a global scale, often leaving multiple victims and significant financial losses in their wake. My office has utilized the enterprise corruption statute in the past to pursue justice against those committing these crimes and this legislative fix to strengthen the law will allow us to do that more efficiently. I thank Senator Peralta for his leadership in introducing this legislation and for recognizing that the law must keep pace with emerging technology.”
Including crimes such as identity theft in the Enterprise Corruption Statute would also save the state money by eliminating duplicative legal proceedings, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars per case.
When a defendant is charged with the crime of enterprise corruption by committing larceny through identity theft, for example, current law requires the defendant be indicted twice for the same underlying actions—one indictment for enterprise corruption and larceny and a second indictment for the identity theft charges.
In turn, a defendant must also be arraigned twice, have bail set twice and have two sets of motions. In the end, a defendant is tried for the same conduct not once, but twice.
In addition to being needlessly costly to the state, the current law is inequitable to defendants, who also face duplicative costs stemming from needing to pay two retainers to defense counsel.
Here’s a small sampling of high-profile cases of new-age organized crime activity: U.S. Says Ring Stole 160 Million Credit Card Numbers; an identity theft ring spearheaded by the Crips, Bloods and a Brooklyn-based gang called the Outlaws stole more than $2 million from New York charities; a cyber-theft of 10 million credit and debit card records was attributed to a New York City based street gang with ties to Central America; a Romanian man with ties to organized crime was charged with stealing at least $1.5 million by installing "skimmer" devices at ATM machines across New York City and Long Island.
“The bill would bring the law into the 21st Century,” Senator Peralta said. “And it would make it easier for police and prosecutors to go after gangs and organized crime syndicates, in addition to saving the state money.”
State Senator Jose Peralta introduced legislation to provide undocumented immigrant New Yorkers access to driver’s licenses. He said that, if enacted, the bill will bring the undocumented into the economic mainstream and improve safety on New York roads.
In introducing the bill, Sen. Peralta noted that unlicensed drivers are five times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes and that uninsured drivers are far more likely to flee the scene of an accident. He added that undocumented immigrants are disproportionately victims of exploitation and fraud.
“A driver’s license will provide undocumented immigrants much more employment flexibility,” Sen. Peralta said. “In moving out of the shadows and into the economic mainstream, they will be less isolated and less vulnerable to predators and their scams. This legislation will also help make all New Yorkers safer by allowing us to identify everyone who drives on our roads and ensure that they are properly credentialed, educated and operating registered, inspected and insured vehicles.”
Sen. Peralta’s bill will permit the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue licenses to undocumented immigrants able to provide non-U.S. identification, prove residence in the state and demonstrate they have not been convicted of a felony crime.
The senate sponsor of the state DREAM Act, Sen. Peralta said he is looking forward to the development during the upcoming legislative session of “a bipartisan response” to the question of integrating New Americans and giving them a chance to succeed and realize the American Dream.
Eleven states already allow undocumented immigrants to secure a driver’s license.
“The recent incidents of deadly violence on Roosevelt Avenue, in broad daylight, underscore the fact that we need a lot more than trash bins and video cameras to make Roosevelt Avenue safe.
“Roosevelt Avenue is referred to as the old Times Square for good reason. Cleaning it up once and for all will require the kinds of resources and determination as were invested in purging Times Square of the sleaze that flourished there for so long.
“Unfortunately, that level of commitment from city and state government does not appear to be forthcoming any time soon. There are steps, however, that can and should be taken immediately to begin the process of making Roosevelt Avenue safer.
“We also need to re-assemble the Roosevelt Avenue Task Force. Originally convened in 1991, it drew from the Police, Fire and Buildings Departments and other agencies.
The Task Force was so successful in closing down brothels and fighting crime, it was allowed to lapse after just four years in action.
“Fresh paint, additional trash cans and video cameras are welcome. They are a very far cry, however, from what’s needed to eradicate the prostitution, human trafficking and other illicit enterprises and dangerous activities that have plagued Roosevelt Avenue for decades.“
With the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund approaching an important deadline, State Senator Jose Peralta is sponsoring a forum to help responders, survivors and the dependents of deceased responders and survivors to fill out the required registration. Anyone who knew, or had reason to know, of physical harm or illness resulting from the 9/11 attacks before October 3, 2011, is required to register by October 3, 2013.
The forum will be held Saturday in the Elmhurst Hospital auditorium from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
“Registration preserves your right to file a claim before the Victim Compensation Fund ends on October 3, 2016,” Sen. Peralta explained. “Registering is not the same as filing a claim and does not commit you to filing a claim. If you are uncertain about when your illness began, register by the October 3, 2013, deadline to preserve your right to file a claim in the future. English- and Spanish-speaking staff at the forum will help with filling out the registration form.”
Joining Sen. Peralta as a co-sponsor of the forum is Single Stop USA, a non-profit organization that provides benefits screening and application assistance services to low-income families. Single Stop USA is a grantee of the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Also co-sponsoring the forum are Hispanic Federation, United We Stand and Ecuadorian International Center.
Senator Jose Peralta is inviting all students in kindergarten through eighth grade to participate in the New York State Senate's Summer Reading Program. This program is aimed at assisting children keep their reading skills honed and minds sharp during their time away from school.
With the end of the school year in sight, many students are anxiously awaiting the summer months. To keep school age children in the mindset of learning, the New York State Senate, in conjunction with the New York State Library, offers the Summer Reading Program to students across the State.
Participating students will use an online journal to keep track of their reading progress throughout the summer. Children who submit a completed journal will receive a Summer Reading Certificate. To have the children register, please visit www.nyread.com.
State Senator Jose Peralta was joined by the Queens Housing Coalition and Make the Road New York today in calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to “stop the bureaucratic wrecking ball” that has laid waste to more than 1,000 units of affordable housing slated to be built in Willets Point and threatens the construction of all of the 1,920 affordable units that were supposed to be built.
The Willets Point development plan agreed to by the City Council in 2008 included the construction of 1,920 units of affordable housing. Construction was to begin at the outset of the development process, or after the initial remediation. Under a revised plan, construction of 875 affordable units will not begin until at least 2025, if at all.
“If they put a wrecking ball to 2,000 units of affordable housing to make room for a shopping mall, it would be front-page news and there would be no end to the outrage,” Sen. Peralta said. “That’s exactly what’s happening here. It’s just as outrageous. It’s just as unacceptable.
“Mr. Mayor, stop the bureaucratic wrecking ball. Let’s hold everyone to their word and provide the affordable housing this community so desperately needs. That way, in a few years, instead of a New York City mayor coming into this community to complain about a census undercount, the visit will be to tout this area as a model of mixed-use development where everyone has a dignified place to live.”
Former New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. said: “Middle-class and working-class families in Queens and around the City need more affordable housing. I’m concerned about plans to scale back the development of affordable units in Willets Point and urge Mayor Bloomberg to recommit to building quality, affordable housing in every borough. As Mayor, I will work to expand middle-income and low-income housing so we can end the middle-class squeeze and allow more New Yorkers to remain in the City they love.”
Assemblyman Francisco Moya said: "Developers have an obligation to address the needs and concerns of the local community. All too often we have seen in working class neighborhoods and communities of color that promises are not kept. The community surrounding Willets Point needs to be guaranteed by the developers and city officials that the one element of this project that will benefit residents the most will be fulfilled: the construction of affordable housing units. The proposed delays and reduced number of units is not acceptable. I look forward to working with the City Council, local community boards, and the Queens Development Group to make sure that our voices are heard, promises are kept, and that we will not have our communities needs pushed to the side."
Council Member Julissa Ferreras said: “Affordable housing is a necessity for Willets Point and has always remained my priority. Since day one, I have worked to negotiate with the Administration to secure a fair plan that will ensure 35 percent of the new apartment units being built are affordable housing units. I am appreciative of the support that I have received from my colleague in local government, Senator Peralta, to bring affordable housing to Willets Point now.”
Council Member Daniel Dromm said: “It is unconscionable that the Administration is spending substantial resources on enticing a major league soccer stadium to the area but refuses to reaffirm a commitment to ensuring that affordable housing will be included in any future development at Willet's Point. New Yorkers who work hard and live in the area should be prioritized over special interests who will give little back to the community.”
Ivan Contreras, Coordinator of Queens Housing Coalition, said: "According to the official contract between the City and the Joint Venture neither party are legally obligated to build the ramps which are needed to develop the housing part. This means that they can walk away from the project leaving the community with a mall, a hotel, a retail center and a parking lot and not building a unit of housing. I don't think this is what the community wants and needs. New York is in a housing crisis we need affordable housing and we need it now"
Leandra Requena, Queens resident and member of Make the Road New York, said: "Members of the community fought hard for affordable housing to be included in the original Willets Point agreement. Now the developers are backing away from this commitment. After a history of broken promises, the City should not allow this developer to build a mall at Willets Point, especially when this community does not need yet another mall."
As the plan stands now, there may be no affordable housing ever constructed as part of the Willets Point development. That's because housing construction may not begin until the city builds additional exit ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway.
The problem is that the city appears to have no intention of completing such construction before 2024, delaying the building of affordable housing until at least 2025. Moreover, if the ramp construction is not completed by December 1, 2025, the developer, the Queens Development Group, is under no obligation to build any affordable housing whatsoever. And, ultimately, it could be the Queens Development Group deciding when the ramps are built, should the developer undertake the job.
But even if the ramps are built in a timely manner, the developer may buy its way out of its affordable housing obligation.
“These conditions put the construction of any affordable housing units in serious doubt,” Sen. Peralta wrote in a letter last week to Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Christine Quinn and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “My community and other communities affected by the Willets Redevelopment simply can’t afford to wait or rely on conditional promises. We need answers and we need results.”