Astoria community organizers are hosting a fundraiser and virtual event to help fellow community members keep warm this winter.
Transform America and Astoria Mutual Aid Network (AMAN) are hosting “Keep Queens Warm,” in partnership with the national MLK Day of Service and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, to help provide space heaters to Astoria residents in public housing who have been living without gas and heat.
In less than two days, they’ve raised nearly $4,000 of their $5,000 goal on GoFundMe.
Transform America co-founder and community activist who goes by Suga Ray told QNS they are “excited to see the community get behind an initiative like this.”
“Clearly NYCHA is the worst landlord in the country, and although love is always needed, a little extra love is needed for folks in NYCHA living without heat. So, this initiative is imperative,” said Suga Ray, who is a resident of Queensbridge Houses. “It shows the power that lies in the statement ‘We Take Care Of Us.'”
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There are currently 45 gas outages in NYCHA buildings across the city, with two of those in buildings at Ravenswood Houses and Woodside Houses, as of Thursday, Jan. 14, according to NYCHA’s website. An entire building at Astoria Houses went nearly three months without cooking gas before NYCHA fixed the outage.
In response, the two groups are collecting donations to purchase at least 150 heaters, and then distribute them by the end of the month.
Arielle Siegel, with AMAN, said their original goal was 50 heaters.
“But thanks to the overwhelming support from the community we were able to raise our goal,” said Siegel. “We want to help as many people as possible!”
They will also collect new and gently used winter clothing to distribute at Queensbridge Houses on Jan. 22. They encourage those interested in donating gently used socks, scarves, gloves and hats at Rivercrest (at 33-15 Ditmars Blvd. Astoria), LIC Kleaners (30-53 Steinway St.) and Lockwood Astoria (32-15 33rd St.).
“These incredible businesses have been very supportive of all of AMA’s efforts over the past 10 months,” Siegel said. “If people do not live in Astoria or Queens but still want to help, we encourage them to contribute to our space heater fund.”
Suga Ray noted Transform America, which has been helping feed neighbors and hosting different events at Queensbridge Houses for months during the pandemic, will continue their work to unite the community.
“We transform America and change the conditions far too many people have been living with and in for far too long, simply by loving our neighbors as we love as ourselves and remember that every person, including those deemed the lowest, is deserving of love and the basic human needs,” said Suga Ray. “Together we rise!”