Flushing community organizations rally for more affordable housing in the neighborhood

Flushing affordable housing
Flushing community leaders and business owners rally for more affordable housing in the community at a proposed development site for a transitional housing facility at 39-03 College Point Blvd. on Sunday, Feb. 20. (Photo courtesy of Flushing United)

Flushing community leaders and business organizations joined Flushing United on Sunday, Feb. 20, to advocate for permanent affordable housing to be built at 39-03 College Point Blvd., after voicing concerns about a proposal to transform the site into a transitional housing facility.

Representatives from Congresswoman Grace Meng, Senator John Liu, Assemblyman Ron Kim and Sandra Ung’s office were in attendance at the rally.

“We appreciate all the support we are receiving from the Flushing community and especially these important advocates who know how much we need more affordable housing in our community,” said Jerry Lo, acting president of Flushing United, a newly formed organization of community and business leaders from the neighborhood who are concerned about the development.

Jerry Lo, acting president of Flushing United (r.), and George Xu, president of the Chinese business association of New York (l.) speak at the rally held on Sunday, Feb. 20, at 39-03 College Point Blvd. in Flushing. (Photo courtesy of Flushing United)

The rally comes after nearly 55,000 Flushing residents and patrons signed a petition opposing a plan by Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) and the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) to construct a 90-unit transitional housing facility for families with children in need.

This is a first-of-a-kind project for AAFE, which is partnering with the Urban Resource Institute (URI) to develop the residential building that will be contextual to the neighborhood.

Currently, the project is halted as AAFE is participating in conversations with community and business leaders, city officials and stakeholders in order to address concerns and to provide more education and insight into the benefits of the project for Flushing, Jennifer Sun, co-executive director of AAFE, said in a recent interview with QNS.  

Members of Flushing United say they want to make sure the project is right for Flushing with proper communication and the community’s input, as the community is still struggling financially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Many of our working-class families have been struggling while worrying about being priced out of our own neighborhood. What we need is more affordable housing for the average workers who live and work in this community they call home,” said Kenny Chen, of the Chinese American Restaurant Service Association. 

Nabaraj KC, president of the College Point Civic Taxpayers Association, said he was impressed to see that 55,000 people have signed the petition. 

“We join the tens of thousands of community members who want to bring permanent affordable housing to our neighborhood,” KC said. 

Henry Hailing Chen, of the Asian Workers Coalition, said “the last thing Flushing needs is transitional housing, with residents who don’t have any ties to the community.” 

While the project is paused, Meng is urging Mayor Eric Adams to engage with local community leaders and organizations to allow businesses, residents and any interested individuals to provide input in the proposal. 

Meng is also requesting the mayor to keep the project halted until all stakeholders have an opportunity to weigh the potential impacts of the project. 

“Addressing today’s housing crisis is crucial for this city, and I believe that we must construct more affordable housing units and offer services that help New Yorkers succeed,” Meng said in a letter to Adams. “Pursuing these noble goals, however, must be done in an inclusive and holistic manner to ensure all parties can bring their views to the table.” 

Meng added, “Considering the media news that the transitional housing project has created, especially with community concerns, I have reservations that the process of your predecessor lacked a rigorous outreach strategy and did not allow the community to provide input. While this oversight was unfortunate, it is not too late to be fixed.”

“The one thing we can all agree on is that we need more real affordable housing and that we have a housing crisis,” Kim said in a statement. “I have been working around the clock with the governor and mayor’s office to immediately remove mentally unstable individuals from our communities.”