In an effort to alleviate some of the stress of the months-long cooking gas outage at an entire building in Astoria Houses, Queens Together, community members and local elected officials joined forces to distribute items to tenants of Astoria Houses on Sunday, Nov. 15.
Queens Together secured crockpots, dry goods and personal protective equipment for the tenants at 1-04 Astoria Blvd. The four dozen families have been without cooking gas since Sept. 23. NYCHA gave each household one hot plate, and have said previously that a full restoration will take more time, even as local elected officials were pushing for the agency to restore it before the holidays.
Community members have also taken it upon themselves to help by donating both hot food and groceries, throughout the time of the outage. While Queens Together understands the donated items aren’t a substitute for a working stove and oven, they hope it offers some level of help, as Thanksgiving is right around the corner.
“We hosted this event because the Queens Together restaurants and chefs, know the holidays are a time for cooking and celebrating with family,” said Queens Together Co-Founder Jonathan Forgash. “Cooking is connecting and there’s no better way of connecting than a home cooked meal. We were honored to meet some of the families face to face. This is how you build community.”
Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides attended the event, and has been pushing NYCHA to find a long-term and sustainable solution.
“Where NYCHA has let residents down, the Astoria Houses community has stepped up,” said Constantinides. “A gas outage should not take away our neighbors’ ability to celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday rooted in family recipes and celebration. I am thankful Queens Together has demonstrated leadership and secured these crockpots, dry goods, and other supplies in this time of need.”
Councilman Donovan Richards, the Queens borough president-elect, attended the event and helped sponsor it.
“As Thanksgiving approaches, Astoria Houses residents are still suffering from a gas outage,” said Richards. “I joined my colleague Councilman Costa Constantinides and other community leaders to give away Crock-Pots and warm meals to ensure no one gets left behind this Thanksgiving.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also attended the event. She recently applauded NYCHA for launching their new pilot program at three housing developments in Queens, in order to address repairs by decentralizing the work process for repairs.
“I’m grateful to Jonathan Forgash and Queens Together for taking initiative under these extremely difficult circumstances to hand out crockpots to residents,” said Maloney. “With Thanksgiving around the corner, NYCHA has to take urgent steps to address the gas outage affecting Astoria Houses residents. A single-burner hotplate is simply not a solution, and I hope NYCHA will hear our concerns will offer more dynamic solutions – including looking at rent reductions for affected residents – in the days to come.”