Year in Review: QNS’ top 10 web stories of 2021

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In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic was still at the forefront of everyone’s lives.

Adjusting and re-adjusting as well as moving toward a recovery were the main focus throughout different aspects of life in Queens. Sprinkled along some of the most viewed stories involved the housing market and, of course, food.

More than 5 million people visited QNS.com in 2021. Thank you for returning or becoming a new reader this year!

Here are the top 10 most read stories of QNS.com in 2021.

Five Queens neighborhoods among top 50 most expensive in NYC

By Jacob Kaye, Jan. 8, 2021

Five Queens neighborhoods landed on a list of the 50 most expensive New York City neighborhoods in 2020, according to PropertyClub’s report.

Ditmars Steinway (36th), Malba (42nd), Hunters Point (43rd), Ridgewood (44th) and Neponsit (50th) all made PropertyClub’s 50 most expensive neighborhoods in New York City list, with three ending the year with a median sales price over $1 million.

Ditmars Steinway, the northernmost section of Astoria, had a median sales price of $1,150,000, according to the report. Both Malba and Hunters Point had a median sales price of just over $1 million and Ridgewood and Neponsit had a median sales price just under $1 million.

Fifteen Queens neighborhoods land on list of 50 most affordable in New York City

By Jacob Kaye, Jan. 18, 2021

Fifteen neighborhoods in Queens landed on the list of the 50 most affordable neighborhoods in New York City, according to a report by PropertyClub.

Three neighborhoods, including Lindenwood, Briarwood and Glen Oaks, were among the 10 most affordable neighborhoods in the city in 2020, according to PropertyClub’s report.

As a borough, Queens boasted the third most affordable neighborhoods in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S., falling only behind the Bronx and Staten Island.

Astoria survey shows COVID-19 recession persists among vulnerable New Yorkers

By Bill Parry, June 4, 2021

Astoria was named “coolest neighborhood in the world” just two years ago — but a first-of-its-kind neighborhood-level survey of New York workers released on June 3 found that many are still suffering from unemployment, anxiety and other COVID-19 impacts, even as vaccination rates increase and restrictions were lifted at the time.

The report, from the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School and the Consortium for Worker Education, surveyed more than 700 workers in Astoria and shows the depth and breadth of challenges facing the city as it emerges from the pandemic.

Workers of color were hardest hit by unemployment, according to the survey. Black workers reported the highest rates of dislocation at 39%, followed by Latinx workers at 34%.

Queens Night Market returns to free entry starting this weekend

By Jenna Bagcal, July 8, 2021

The Queens Night Market at Flushing Meadows Corona Park was once again free and open to the public at the beginning of July, after it returned for its sixth season in June at reduced capacity.

The market’s founder John Wang announced that the ticketing used to manage visitor capacity and waive vendor participation fees would be lifted, after requiring patrons to purchase tickets in advance or at the door. The event pledged 20% of net ticket proceeds to initiatives promoting racial equity, COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts. In three weeks, the pledge yielded nearly $10,000.

On the Queens Nights Market’s opening night, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards issued a proclamation declaring June 19 “Queens Night Market Day.”

New York HERO Act passes in Albany, ensuring COVID-19 safety in the workplace

By Bill Parry, April 22, 2021

The state Senate approved the New York HERO Act, introduced by Astoria Senator Michael Gianaris, that would mandate enforceable safety standards in the workplace during the COVID-19 crisis in April. The legislation was later signed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo a month later. 

“Too many workers have already sacrificed their health for our community’s benefit,” Gianaris said. “The New York HERO Act honors their efforts by giving workers the tools to protect themselves while on the job. I appreciate the support for this proposal from my colleagues in both houses and so many organizations throughout New York.”

Supported by more than 100 labor, community and safety organizations including the AFL-CIO, the legislation requires the Departments of Labor and Health to implement enforceable minimum standards for workplace safety. The regulations must include protocols on testing, PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection and engineering controls.

Several months later, Gianaris called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to direct state agencies to fully implement the law.

Too close to call: City Council District 31 special election will be first NYC race decided by ranked-choice voting

By Jacob Kaye and Clarissa Sosin, ​​Feb. 23, 2021

All eyes were on the special election for City Council District 31 in February, which was the city’s first true test of the ranked-choice voting system.

The competitive and crowded race was too close to call after voters hit the polls on Tuesday, Feb. 23, but (current) Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers held a slight early lead over the nine candidates. However, since none of the candidates secured 50% of the vote, a ranked-choice voting count was triggered.

After counting absentee ballots, the Board of Elections certified results almost a month later, and Brooks-Powers officially emerged as the winner.

Although the District 31 race wasn’t the first in the city’s history to utilize the new voting system — that distinction goes to the special election in Council District 24 — it is the first to go into the second count.

First of four vaccine hubs in Queens opens at Hillcrest High School

By Angélica Acevedo, Jan. 11, 2021

In an effort to vaccinate all eligible New Yorkers, several COVID-19 vaccine hubs opened in the city early January — with the first in Queens established in Jamaica.

NYC’s Health Department opened a mass vaccination site at Hillcrest High School in the second weekend of January. It was initially open seven days a week, and had the capacity to vaccinate 5,000 to 7,000 people per day.

“Facilities like these will be a route to immunity for thousands of New Yorkers,” Health Commissioner Dr. Dave. A. Chokshi said.

The city later added a dozen more vaccine hubs to serve over 100,000 New Yorkers weekly.

Flushing small business owner takes action against DoorDash over fraud allegation

By Jenna Bagcal, March 3, 2021

QNS reported on DoorDash terminating A-Crepe’s merchant license over suspected fraudulent activity. According to the shop’s owners, the food delivery service had withdrawn a total of $46,700 earned from sales and proceeds without notice and terminated the restaurant’s account days later without any explanation.

“All within one day, without warning. After that occurred we were really confused,” Eric Leung said on behalf of his business partner and owner David Liu. “This is literally months and months of revenue — we have rent, bills and other expenses to pay and we can’t afford to without this money.”

Leung said that since DoorDash had access to A-Crepe’s account number, the company pulled the funds using an automated clearing house transfer (ACH). Liu and Leung were able to recover $32,000 after the pair disputed it with Bank of America and filled out an affidavit saying that the ACH transfer was unauthorized. The remaining $14,000 in funds were still withheld by DoorDash.

Despite contacting DoorDash for an explanation as to why their account was canceled without notice, a company representative reportedly cited “fraudulent activity” but no further information.

Following the ordeal, Leung gave a message to all small business owners: Don’t be afraid to speak up.

“If we can do it, then anyone can do it. I just want people to stand up for what is right, and that’s all for the power of community. We will stand together for what’s right and tell those big companies we’re not going to get bullied,” Leung said.

City launches new small business economic support programs as part of COVID recovery

By Bill Parry, April 26, 2021

The city made more resources available to small businesses as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery campaign.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that $155 million of the funds would go directly to small businesses as grants and direct support through the Department of Small Business Services (SBS).

“As the city continues on its journey to recovery, it is critical that we make small businesses the central focus of our relief efforts,” SBS Commissioner Jonnel Doris said. “SBS will continue to strive for an inclusive recovery, ensuring all small businesses have the resources they need to get back on their feet.”

The programs focused on low- to moderate-income businesses in the hardest-hit communities and also helped businesses in the arts, entertainment, recreation and food services.

Lidl grocery store to open in Astoria, its first location in Queens, next week

By Angélica Acevedo, April 1, 2021

Lidl, a discount grocery store, opened its first location in Queens early in April in Astoria.

The grocer, which originated in Germany and now operates about 11,200 stores in 32 countries with headquarters in Virginia, is known for its low prices and high-quality products.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined store workers in their grand opening ceremony.

“With the recent economic downturn hitting Queens especially hard, we are thrilled about the opening of Lidl discount grocery in Astoria and are excited that the store will offer good-paying jobs that start at $17 an hour,” Richards said.