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Be Our Guest: Affordable housing plan for Willets Point is reduced and could be doomed

As reported by the Daily News:

By State Senator Jose Pealta:

If City Hall 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.

That’s essentially what’s happening at Willets Point. Unfortunately, it’s hardly causing a stir with anyone other than local affordable housing advocates.

The Willets Point development plan agreed to by the City Council in 2008 called for a a mix of retail space and housing, including the construction of 820 homes for families making $38,400 a year or less; 330 homes for families earning between $38,400 and $46,080; and 770 units for families earning from $46,080 to $99,840.

For full article, click here. 

July 1, 2013
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Queens pol pushes city to put speed camera at busy intersection

As reported by the Daily News:

A dangerous Queens intersection near an elementary school may get a lot safer.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) has asked the city to place a speed camera at Junction Blvd. and Horace Harding Expressway. He co-sponsored a recently passed law to provide 20 speed cameras in various school zones.

The Rego Park intersection is about two blocks from Public School 206, which lost its crossing guard there several years back due to budget cuts, Peralta said.“It will at least slow people down when they realize there’s a camera there,” Peralta said. “We don’t want any kids injured when they’re crossing the street.”

For full article, click here. 

June 26, 2013
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Qns. pols demand MTA restore station agents

As reported by the Times Ledger:

Elected officials and Transport Workers Union Local 100 representatives gathered in Astoria last week to demand the MTA restore station agents at subway booths who were removed throughout New York City in 2010.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who spearheaded the rally, joined members of TWU Local 100, along with City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), outside the Steinway Street-Broadway station in Astoria June 6 as part of a citywide day of action and petitioning to highlight the need for restoring station agents and booths across the city’s subway system.

For full article, click here. 

June 17, 2013
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Senator Peralta Invites All Children To Join His Summer Reading Program

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.

June 7, 2013
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Calls For Affordable Housing Continue

As reported by the Queens Tribune:

The debate over the Willets Point redevelopment plan continues, as the City Council and community members calling for more affordable housing seemingly refuse to move towards middle ground.

One side wants to see affordable housing built in Willets Point right away, or at least see a guarantee of affordable housing, while the other wants to build a community in a an undeveloped area before building housing complexes, which would include affordable housing units.

For full article, click here. 

June 7, 2013
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Calls to put housing ahead of mall at Willets

As reported by the Queens Chronicle:

Housing advocates, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods chanted “What do we want? Affordable housing!” across the street from Citi Field on Friday, decrying what they considered a lackluster push for it in Willets Point and calling for a new agreement between the city and the development group selected to rejuvenate the Iron Triangle.

For full article, click here. 

June 7, 2013
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Willets housing vow lost to city’s legal fears

As reported by the Times Ledger:

Developers of the $3 million Willets Point project are not contractually required to build affordable housing in part because the city wants to shield itself from a potential lawsuit.

The Bloomberg administration did not want to risk paying out legal damages to the developers — Related Cos. and Sterling Equities, the real estate arm of the New York Mets — should the city fail to build additional ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway, an essential precursor to constructing the housing component of the project, officials and the companies said at a recent meeting.

For full article, click here. 

June 6, 2013
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Locals Worried About Affordable Housing Promise In Willets Point

As reported by NY1:

Willets Point has had a development plan in the works since 2008, but after a recent revision, some are worried the city won't keep its promise regarding affordable housing.

To view video, click here. 

June 4, 2013
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Peralta to Mayor: Keep Affordable Housing Promise

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.”

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May 31, 2013
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Labor Gains: Session Countdown on Labor

As reported by City & State:

Legislation raising New York’s minimum wage didn’t please everybody in Albany, but the final agreement, which incrementally increases the wage to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, was acceptable enough for both houses and the governor to sign on.

That bill is likely to be the biggest piece of legislation directly affecting the state’s workers this year, but there have been other important changes as well—and still more are under discussion.

For full article, click here. 

May 29, 2013
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Peligran viviendas asequibles en Willets Point

Según ha informado El Diario:

NUEVA YORK — En los ocho años que Sabino Benítez lleva residiendo en Corona, Queens, no ha podido encontrar una vivienda asequible y hubo épocas en que tuvo que alquilar una habitación de su apartamento para poder completar el alquiler.

"Los que tienen vivienda económica son los que llevan décadas en sus apartamentos", dijo Benítez.

Benítez y su esposa Paulina Durán tienen dos hijos de ocho y nueve años, y son de las familias que están a la espera de que se construyan viviendas asequibles en el plan de desarrollo Willets Point, ubicado detrás de Citi Field, el estadio de los Mets, pero al perecer esa espera será larga y muchos líderes temen que al final los residentes se queden con las manos vacías.

Para el artículo completo, haga clic aquí. 

May 29, 2013
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Ordenan Desalojar a Varios Comercios en Queens

Según ha informado WXTV 41:

Varios negocios de Queens han sido el blanco de inspectores municipales quienes ordenan desalojar los comercios por supuestas violaciones.

Para el video completo, haga clic aquí. 

May 29, 2013
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Statement From State Senator Jose Peralta On Passing Of Staff Member And Long-Time Colleague Steve Pezenik

“Family, friends and colleagues of Steve Pezenik gathered this morning to bid farewell and celebrate the wonderful life of a loving father and husband, someone who was as selfless and caring an individual as any of us have ever come to know.

“Steve was a great friend and trusted colleague.  He will be dearly missed by the many of us whose lives he touched.”

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May 28, 2013
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‘MLS to Queens’ likely kaput with Yanks deal

As reported by the Queens Chronicle:

A duo of megalith sports franchises, the New York Yankees and Britain’s Manchester City Football Club, announced on Monday Major League Soccer’s 20th franchise and second foray in the tri-state metropolitan area: New York City Football Club.

As officials from MLS, the Bronx Bombers, Abu Dhabi-owned Man City and Mayor Bloomberg congratulated each other during a Tuesday press conference rolling out the franchise, there was one notable absence: the Unisphere, which had become ubiquitous in the league’s push to build a home in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

For full article, click here. 

May 23, 2013
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Sen. Peralta, Housing Advocates Condemn ‘Bait-and-Switch Tactics’ Used To Win Support For Willets Point Development

State Senator Jose Peralta and affordable housing advocates are calling for the mayor and Willets Point developers to provide “rock-solid assurances” that affordable housing will be built in the quantity and within the time frame specified in the plan approved by the City Council.

The Willets Point development plan agreed to by the Council 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 the revised plan, construction of 875 affordable units will not begin until at least 2025, if at all,

“These bait-and-switch tactics cannot be tolerated,” Sen. Peralta wrote in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.  “I will be urging community boards that approved the original plan to reconsider their support in light of the significant changes made to it.  I urge the City Council to do the same.

“It is imperative that the Council, community boards and all of the public receive from the city and the developers rock-solid assurances that the number of affordable units originally called for in the plan be built and made available in a timely manner,” Sen. Peralta added.

Ivan Contreras, the coordinator of the Queens Housing Coalition, an alliance of seven community-based organizations whose objective is to preserve and advocate for the development and preservation of affordable housing in Queens, is also troubled by the changes in the plan and shifting accountability.

“Most importantly, the city and developers have attempted to appease community concerns by making mere verbal promises, but have yet to commit to contractual obligations to follow through with their commitments,” Contreras said.  “Such a lack of accountability in this long-term project means that the community faces an immense risk of losing out on the potential benefits of the project—namely, affordable housing, which is so desperately needed in the surrounding communities.”

As it 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 noted.  “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.”

The Queens Housing Coalition is an alliance of seven community organizations—Centro Hispano Cuzcatlan, Queens Community House, Catholic Migration Services, Woodside on the Move, Chhaya CDC, MinKwon Center for Community Action and Asian Americans For Equality.

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Attachment: Letter from Peralta to Bloomberg, Quinn and Marshall.

May 22, 2013
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Senador Peralta Apoya a Empleados de Supermercado Trade Fair

Según ha informado Queens Latino:

“Soy su senador y estoy aquí para respaldar el sindicato y exigirle al supermercado Trade Fair que permita el regreso de los empleados”, dijo el senador estatal demócrata José Peralta. Desde el pasado 13 de marzo casi 100 empleados del departamento de carnes de esta cadena de 9 supermercados se hallan en paro forzado. Han realizado varias demostraciones y es la primera vez que el senador Peralta decide salir a la calle a apoyarlos.

Para el artículo completo, haga clic aquí

May 20, 2013
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Call for crossing guard at ‘dangerous’ Elmhurst intersection

As reported by the Queens Courier:

A local politician and a school principal are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to ensure the safety of pedestrians, especially school children, who cross a “dangerous” intersection.

In March, Senator Jose Peralta urged DOT to take a closer look at the intersection of Junction Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway in Elmhurst. The 110th and 112th Precincts had advised him neither would provide a crossing guard. A guard used to monitor the intersection.

For full article, click here. 

May 15, 2013
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Hundreds Turn Out for Corona Job Fair

Nearly 400 job seekers met with employers Saturday at a job fair sponsored by State Senator Jose Peralta in conjunction with Elmcor Career Pathways and United Healthcare.

Thirty-five of the attendees were offered jobs at the fair, held at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Corona.

“The economy is improving, but many families are still struggling to make ends meet,” Senator Peralta said.  “We were able to immediately help at least some of them at the fair.  From past experience, I think a number of others will end up landing jobs thanks to the contacts they made at the fair.”

Some of the 24 employers on hand included Time Warner Cable, Resorts World Casino, Council for Airport Opportunity, New York Life, Coca Cola and a variety of government agencies, including the New York police and fire departments.

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May 15, 2013
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Shannon Mancuso-Getzel

"It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” This is the motto Shannon Mancuso-Getzel lives by and it guides her in all she continues to do for her Queens community. A licensed social worker, Ms. Mancuso-Getzel earned her master’s degree from Fordham University in 2008.

May 13, 2013
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April 27, 9:30 AM - 1:00 PM
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