QUEENS – Borough President Candidate Costa Constantinides announced on December 13 a bold plan to ensure New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents in Queens get the investments and services they deserve after generations of neglect. The ambitious plan will also ensure tenant leaders’ voices are heard, so they can get the resources the nearly two-dozen NYCHA campuses in Queens deserve.
“NYCHA has shamefully failed generations of public housing residents, whose complaints about mold, no heat, and little investment have long been ignored,” said Constantinides, Democrat for Queens Borough President. “The next Borough President must figure out how we bring our tenant leaders together, give NYCHA residents a voice, advocate for more funds to fix this broken system, and green our campuses. Together we can Transform Queens to breathe new life into public housing.”
Constantinides has long fought to improve conditions within New York City Housing Authority developments as well as all forms of public housing. As a City Council Member, he has sought to improve life at the Astoria Houses — located in a formerly red-lined portion of western Queens that hardly saw any investment.
Queens’ 21 large-scale NYCHA developments still need a lot of care, however, as children breathe in mold and other harmful toxins. Constantinides wants to reform how the borough’s 34,000-plus NYCHA residents can work together to rethink public housing. His plan will:
- Appoint More Public Housing Residents to Community Boards: Public housing residents have long been under represented on the City’s Community Boards, which tremendous influence in neighborhood planning. Constantinides, using the Borough President’s ability to appoint members, would ensure that every Community Board that includes public housing has representation from those respective developments. When Constantinides took office in 2014, there was not a single Astoria Houses tenant on Community Board 1, despite the fact it’s home to roughly 3,100 western Queens residents. He has since appointed two public housing residents to the board, bringing a much-needed voice to community decision making.
- Assign a Public Housing Director to Oversee a Tenant Leaders Roundtable: Constantinides would also bring tenant leaders from every Queens NYCHA development together for regular roundtable meetings, so they can work together and solve problems across the authority’s campuses. The intention is to ensure tenant leaders can discuss myriad problems at their developments as well as share ideas on what can be done to fix them. A public housing-focused expert within the constituent services division will support tenant leaders, help identify trends of what is or isn’t working, and determine how the borough president can solve problems.
- Create a Green New Deal for Public Housing in Queens: Constantinides will also embrace elements of the growing movement to deliver a Green New Deal for Public Housing. As the effective county executive for Queens, Constantinides would use that power to secure more federal and state dollars for Queens NYCHA campuses, which have long been ignored over the last 20 years. A Green New Deal for Public Housing, which has been proposed at the federal government, would steer $180 billion into public housing over a decade, which Constantinides will work to make sure goes to Queens NYCHA campuses. He’ll also work to secure more money from the Executive Budget, using the Borough President’s traditional role in advocacy for spending across Queens. NYCHA buildings should also be more energy efficient and run cleaner for those who live in them. Constantinides would ensure boilers are upgraded so the awful trend of NYCHA residents shivering through the winter finally ends. His plan will also secure funding to replace windows, which let in cold air and drain energy consumption. Enhancing NYCHA buildings through large-scale, multi-sourced funding will also combat the underlying problems at these properties — especially mold.
- Green and Revitalize Communal Spaces: He would also build upon his career investing in NYCHA properties to green and improve communal spaces. Constantinides has already proven this is possible at the Council level: He’s formed partnerships to improve life on NYCHA campuses. The historic Astoria Cove rezoning in 2014 included $500,000 to transform a space abandoned for decades into a new senior center at the Astoria Houses. At Borough Hall, he’ll continue to leverage partnerships to make new investments in community, youth, and senior centers. Constantinides’ plan also includes unlocking green spaces — many of which have been locked away for generations. As Borough President, he’ll work with NYCHA officials to identify areas to either create or reopen green space and lawns for community use.
Costa Constantinides currently serves in the New York City Council, where he represents western Queens and chairs the Committee on Environmental Protection. His legislative accomplishments include the Climate Mobilization Act, a Green New Deal for New York City, as well as the historic 80% reduction by 2050 of carbon emissions commitment. Costa lives in his native Astoria with his wife and son.
For more information, visit: www.votecosta.com