By Ivan Pereira
City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) has vowed to aid a nonprofit group that has been helping out needy homeowners in southeast Queens.
Sanders met with representatives of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in Rosedale June 16 to discuss ways he could contribute to their handyman program that provides free housing improvement help to New Yorkers.
Due to budget cuts, the program has been threatened with reduction and possible elimination even though there are nearly 200 people who need it, according to the councilman.
“We need to let people know this program exists,” he said.
People who use the service will have a handyman sent to their home to do all kinds of work to it at no cost to the homeowner, according to Sarah Felsenthal, the community and public policy manager for the Met Council. One of the group’s five handymen can fix floors, install new stair banisters and shower bars and do other tasks on an average visit.
“It’s not that they just walk in and fix a window,” Felsenthal said. “They notice that if something is dire, they’ll refer them to another service.”
The program is in jeopardy since state and city funding has cut nearly 40 percent from the council’s budget, according to the representative. They are considering removing one of their two vans used by the handyman and cutting the number of applicants who get access to the service, Felsenthal said.
Last year, nearly 200 Queens residents used the handyman program, she said.
Sanders, however, said he did not want that fate to happen to the program and said he would do all he could to get city funding restored to the project. He also proposed a plan to expand the service in southeast Queens by using the money to get another van and have it housed near his office.
“We believe we will find the money to continue this policy,” he said of the Council.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.