Op-Ed: Gov. Hochul’s ‘Housing Compact’ will destroy homeownership and communities in southeast Queens 

A Row of Old Brick Homes along the Sidewalk in Astoria Queens New York
Photo via Getty Images

For decades, southeast Queens has been held up as a model of the American dream for those striving for a better life. Our communities in southeast Queens have more than 220,000 residents claiming African American and Caribbean American heritage, many of whom themselves (or their parents and grandparents) left other denser parts of the city — often at greater cost and expense than most other ethnic groups in the city — to have some breathing room, own their own home, a backyard, grass and trees and to give their children a better life.

From Hillside Avenue to JFK Airport and Lefferts Boulevard to the Nassau County line, our mostly suburban neighborhoods have survived and thrived despite systemic racism and redlining. We cherish our low-density communities in southeast Queens and we have consistently defended our detached one-family zoning in places like Addisleigh Park, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, Laurelton, Queens Village, Rosedale, St. Albans, South Ozone Park and Springfield Gardens. Additionally, over 60% of our residents own their own homes, more than double the citywide average.

We want to be clear: we are united with all of our neighbors in Queens, Staten Island, the rest of New York City, the suburbs in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and beyond, regardless of race, ethnicity or economic background who oppose the “Housing Compact” which, in our estimation, will be the equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off in our communities.

Having the governor mandate more development in southeast Queens, increasing density by 500% within ½ mile of our LIRR stations, forcing increases in housing if we don’t do it ourselves by overriding local zoning, giving blanket amnesty to dangerous and deadly basement and cellar apartments — these are extinction level policies that will wipe out our neighborhoods, plain and simple. Most of our elected officials from southeast Queens understand this.

Some supporters of Gov. Hochul’s plan, such as Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher of Brooklyn, have equated single-family zones with Jim Crow practices and have deemed the governor’s plan as necessary to achieve “racial justice.” While historically that is true, it does not apply to our communities in southeast Queens in 2023.

What we’ve achieved over the years is the ability to live the life we want, where we want and how we want.

The governor’s plan, far from bringing “racial justice” to our Black and brown communities in southeast Queens and other areas, would bring devastation throughout our neighborhoods if implemented.

The financial and political gains that African Americans have made in our city, our suburbs and across the state – our top elected officials except for the governor, herself, are African American in both the state and the city – all of this will be lost if the “Housing Compact” becomes law.

We are the civic leadership of southeast Queens. We are Black and we are 100% opposed to Gov. Hochul’s “Housing Compact” and the attempts to increase density exponentially in our communities. We hope that the governor and Legislature are listening very carefully.


Addisleigh Park Civic Association

Alpha Street Civic Association

Brinkerhoff Action Association

Eastern Queens Alliance

Greater Triangle Civic Association

Queens Village Civic Association

St. Albans Civic Improvement Association

149th Street South Ozone Park Civic Association

221/222 Street Block Association

South Ozone Park Civic Association West

Sojourner Truth Democratic Club

United Coalition for Veterans & Community Rights (UCVCR)

United Neighbors Civic Association (UNCA)

Wayanda Civic Association