You are reading

Op-Ed: Affordable Housing in Flushing is Possible

Flushing United, a grassroots organization consisting of Asian-American civic leaders and local residents, has put forward a number of proposals concerning the development of 39-03 College Point Blvd. (Photo of the development site courtesy of Flushing United)

July 1, 2022 By Jerry Lo, Yi (Andy) Chen and Hailing Chen

The Flushing community is at a pivotal moment when it comes to the future of affordable housing in our neighborhood.

As we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, New York’s housing stock continues to be insufficient and unaffordable for many middle-class, immigrant families. We must combat feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness with a drive for creative, alternative solutions that will uplift families, seniors, small business owners, and entire communities.

Mayor Eric Adams has rightfully recognized this challenge and earlier this month unveiled his plan to address the housing crisis, noting “housing cannot be a privilege, it’s the key to living a healthy lifestyle. Safe, stable, and affordable housing is fundamental to our prosperity.”

We completely agree with Mayor Adams and that’s why Flushing United has developed not one, but three plans to build affordable housing on an undeveloped site located at 39-03 College Point Boulevard.

We developed these plans after the landowner, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) falsely and repeatedly claimed that building a transitional housing shelter was the only feasible option for the site.

Despite AAFE’s assertions that it has had an “extensive community engagement process,” there has been no open, public meeting of any kind with the Flushing neighborhood. If they had gone through that process, they would recognize that we have a unique opportunity here: Flushing both wants and needs truly affordable rental housing.

While AAFE has claimed that affordable housing could not work on this land, that is demonstrably untrue. Flushing United, a group of the local stakeholders, businesses, residents, workers and shoppers of Flushing, Queens, has put together three different affordable housing proposals that would comfortably fit within the confines of “as-of-right” development fitting the neighborhood’s historic context and surrounding buildings.

Additionally, the three proposals offered by Flushing United all provide affordable housing to those in precarious or tenuous housing situations and all the proposals will cost taxpayers significantly less than the $440 million that it would cost for the transitional housing development supported by AAFE. All the proposed alternatives offer long-term affordability and take advantage of a myriad of grants and financing mechanisms aimed at lifting working class families.

The first of Flushing United’s three proposals would offer 58 housing units ranging in levels of affordability from permanent housing for the formerly homeless to those earning 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). The total cost of this project would be $44.3 million, and it would help serve many lower income families.

Proposal two would seek to bridge the housing needs of the elderly in Flushing, providing 106 units of affordable rentals for seniors 62-and-older; these income thresholds would be 30-to-40 percent of the area median income, and leverage ground floor space for mixed-use community or commercial activity. The total cost would be $54.7 million and most importantly it would help to house our senior citizens who are so often forgotten.

The third proposal Flushing United was able to come up with was an intergenerational solution, offering housing to both the working families and the elderly; under this model, 76 units would be intergenerationally mixed, targeting a broad range of area median incomes from homeless-to-80 percent, and seniors up to 40 percent of the AMI. The total cost would be $51.6 million, once again a much cheaper price than the transitional shelter.

Flushing United is committed to community-driven solutions to the long-term growth and sustainability of our community, which is why we took the time, resources, and initiative to show that a future with affordable housing in Flushing is possible.

We cannot let the naysayers and non-believers drive our policies. We hope AAFE will take the time to review and seriously consider these options, and that they will be a partner in ensuring the Flushing community has access to the affordable housing that it needs and deserves for generations to come.

As the Mayor has said, “We’re going to give safe, affordable housing. New York has always been a beacon of life and hope and we’re going to continue to do so.”

Jerry Lo is the Acting President; Yi (Andy) Chen and Hailing Chen are Vice Presidents of Flushing United, a group of grassroots community leaders, Asian American Association organizations, business leaders, and medical professors from the Flushing community.

Flushing United, a grassroots organization consisting of Asian-American civic leaders and local residents, has put forward a number of proposals concerning the development of 39-03 College Point Blvd. (Photo of the development site courtesy of Flushing United)

email the author: [email protected]

One Comment

Click for Comments 
Flushing YIMBY

Many of the figures given here are not accurate. The total cost to taxpayers for the existing AAFE plan is just $15m compared to this editorial’s proposal of triple that amount; the existing proposal also specifically aims to help out the most marginalized of Asian-American and other families earning much less than even 40% of the AMI that has surged due to overdevelopment in Flushing.

More to the point, Flushing United is being hypocritical here in feigning concern for affordable housing while its proxies distribute posters in English saying they want “neighbors not shelters” and in Chinese proclaiming they want “residents not bums”.

Maybe this is a compromise between that extremism but it’s not altogether convincing when there is no evidence that the existing AAFE plan poses any threat to the neighborhood, property values, or safety while aiding far more people at less cost.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Queens Botanical Garden hosts Lunar New Year celebration with globally beloved Miffy

About 4,200 people joined the world-renowned beloved rabbit Miffy to ring in the Year of the Rabbit at Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration included a visit from Councilman Shekar Krishnan, who gave remarks, followed by a program of activities for all ages. Attendees enjoyed a lion dance performance, zodiac crafts, demonstrations, lucky plant sales and more. Miffy was in attendance for photos, story time and to greet children throughout the event.

Mets owner Steve Cohen hosts second community visioning session regarding development of area around Citi Field

Hundreds of community residents and leaders gathered at the Piazza Club inside Citi Field to participate in a visioning session regarding the development of a nearby 50-acre lot. This marked the second visioning session New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has hosted at Citi Field in January as he attempts to collect as much community feedback regarding the development as possible.

Attendees of the visioning session went to a series of interactive stations, sharing what mattered most to them when it came to improving the area around Citi Field, including preferred forms of year-round entertainment, ability to access different forms of transportation and attainable local jobs and training. Information and input was collected from the community in how they would like to see the lot utilized. A common theme among many of those who took part in the visioning session was the desire to see something built there that would bring a lot of economic opportunity to the community and provide year-round entertainment.

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens doctor aims to bring awareness to women’s heart health

With February marking the beginning of American Heart Month, a cardiologist from NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital spoke with QNS about the importance of heart health for women.

According to attending cardiologist Dr. Joanna Troulakis, approximately 400,000 women die as a result of cardiovascular diseases each year in the United States. She noted that women have suffered more cardiovascular disease deaths than men in recent years. When it comes to heart attacks, the mortality rate for women is higher than men.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.