By Mark Hallum
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was in Astoria for a town hall with City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), where they discussed funding for senior housing through the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, issues in the Acropolis housing complex as well as improvements that could be made to NYC Ferry service to northwestern Queens.
About 300 residents filled the auditorium at PS 171 Oct. 4 to discuss these topics face-to-face with Johnson for his very first town hall.
Johnson said about $500 million had been set aside from the 2019 budget for the Department of Housing Preservation & Development to fund six senior affordable housing projects, with one slated for 31st Street and Broadway, much of which is currently a parking lot, but the city believes around 100 units could be built at the location.
A number of attendees were residents from the Acropolis complex who complained of maintenance issues at the co-op — located at 21-68 35th St. with about 618 units — which is on the verge of foreclosure and has not had a board meeting in a number of years.
“That’s the first order of business is to make sure that your homes, all 618 units, are protected. That’s the first order of business,” Constantinides said, adding he would be reaching out to the state Attorney General’s office. “The secondary part of this is, we have to do an investigation… This has been a frustrating turn of events where you have a management that is not listening to the residents, 618 families that live there.”
In 2015, residents at Acropolis went about six weeks without hot water or gas, gaining the attention of Public Advocate Letitia James.
One woman said the NYC Ferry service to Hallets Point has sped up her commute and released her dependency on unreliable subway service across the city. However, she did take issue with how safe the path to the ferry landing, claiming that cat-callers lurk in the area, which makes her fear for her safety.
“I don’t want to have to resort to taking the train again,” she said.
Johnson, who used the ferry service to get to Astoria, said he would work to address the problem through better lighting and said the 114th Precinct may be able to offer some assistance by patrolling the area.
Johnson boasted that about $25 million had been contributed to the Hallets Cove Peninsula from the 2019 budget, which includes investments of about $3.25 million in Astoria Library and $250,000 for better lighting and new security cameras around the community center at Astoria Houses.
Astoria Houses, a NYCHA complex, also received funds for solar panels, according to Johnson.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall