By Naeisha Rose
Dr. Rupert Green, who is running on the Republican tickets against City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), wants to tackle the foreclosures that have uprooted many people who live in southeast Queens
Green is from St. Albans and was a teacher for 17 years at the School of Cooperative Technical Education in Manhattan, where he taught computer technology classes to high school students. He is also facing Green Party contender Frank Francois.
Green’s primary focus as a candidate includes preventing illegal foreclosures of homes, job creation for the young and decreasing crime in the district.
If he becomes a councilman, he hopes to sponsor seminars that will prevent citizens from being foreclosed on. Green also wants to help non-profits like the Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica, which specializes in educating current and potential homeowners about foreclosure prevention, predatory loans, fair housing efforts and money management.
During the 2008 recession 27,000 homes throughout the city were foreclosed on, including 9,000 in the southeast Queens region, according to the Center of NYC Neighborhoods.
“You have banks that run these scams on the people and then the people lose their homes,” Green said. “We need to sponsor organizations that are well versed in housing to educate the population that is being affected.”
The former high school STEM teacher hopes to help the young in the area become a part of the growing economic development in Jamaica and help them nab jobs at one of New York’s busiest airports.
The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, an economic group, has nurtured upwards of $1 billion of private and public-sector investment over the past decade to create more than 5.1 million square feet of residential, hotel and retail space in Jamaica, according to the organization’s president, Hope Knight.
In early January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $10 billion renovation of JFK Airport to turn the facility into “unified, interconnected, world-class complex.”
Green believes technical education and employment are the key to ending the school-to-prison pipeline for people of color and will help them get the jobs coming from the multiple GJDC developments.
“One of my major problems is that schools are graduating our [students of color] to go into prisons instead of becoming gainfully employed, tax-paying members of society,” he said.
He wants to use the local colleges in Queens, like York College, as satellite technical schools and incubators. He also wants to bring back technical classes that use to be in middle schools in the 1960s to the 1970s.
“We have this scam that these kids have to go to college or they will become failures,” Green said. “A person with a two-year technical degree can earn much more than someone with six to eight years in college. These are the welders, the plumbers, the bricklayers and HVAC people.”
The other issues Green hopes to tackle are small business, homelessness and community-police relations.
Green believes that small business owners in the southeast Queens area are over-inspected and have fines levied against them for things as small as a fly on the wall or other people’s garbage dumped in front of their stores.
Most of the entrepreneurs he has spoken with are in the small restaurant businesses in Council District 27. He wants to create a small business advocacy group to address the problems they face and to take action over the high fines levied by inspectors.
He wants to solve the homeless problem by uniting struggling homeowners who have space in their homes to rent to people who are the working homeless and have fallen on hard times but are still doing their best to be functioning members of society.
When it comes to homeless people who are mentally ill, he wants to work with mental health specialists and housing advocates in finding a solution to helping them. He blames former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for closing down hospitals that served those with psychiatric needs for the epidemic of the homeless who are mentally ill on the streets.
Green also wants to push the communities in District 27 to participate more in sector meetings with police officers. He hopes the interactions will lessen tensions between people of color and police if they started to get to know each other better and further help to stop crime.
Despite being in a predominantly Democratic district Green wants people to vote for him because of his message.
Green said southeast Queens used to be one of the richest areas of the city.
“Now it has become a rundown slum because we have voted Democrat for 50 years. Like Trump said, “’What do you have to lose?’”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose