On August 16, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Council Member Letitia James, along with Christopher Hanway, Executive Director of the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, Robert Madison, Director of Senior Services at the Jacob Riis Senior Center, April Simpson-Taylor, President of the Queensbridge Houses Tenants Association, and a group of youth and seniors assembled together to demand that NYCHA repair the Western Queens community center. Currently the center contains no proper air conditioning system and its bathrooms are in terrible condition.
According to a recent NYCHA quarterly report, the agency had not properly distributed nearly $50 million in tax payer dollars to repair countless projects, including the renovation of community centers, in neighborhoods throughout New York City – including Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House.
“Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House is the hub and heart of Queensbridge,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “How long do our seniors and youth have to wait for these renovations and improvements to take place? It is impossible and unconscionable to believe that it is going to take NYCHA nearly five years to fix our community center. This is a disgrace. We cannot and will not wait any longer. I call on NYCHA to get this work done for the residents of Queensbridge. Not tomorrow, but today.”
During the press conference, representatives of Jacob Riis and seniors who have utilized the center, some for decades, spoke about the awful conditions they have to endure every single day and urged NYCHA to act quickly to repair conditions.
“As a community-based organization operating in the Settlement House tradition, it is unfortunate that our Queensbridge facility sometimes seems unwelcoming to the community because of rest rooms in chronic disrepair and a lack of air conditioning in our gymnasium/auditorium,” said Christopher Hanway, Executive Director of the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House. “Council Member Van Bramer has been extremely responsive to the community’s needs by allocating needed funds to make these necessary repairs and upgrades. I urge NYCHA to utilize these funds in a timely manner and give the residents of Queensbridge the community center they rightfully deserve. “
“The lack of safe, functional, and welcoming rest room facilities for your participants and staff, particularly our seniors and young people, has been a problem for several years now,” said Robert Madison, Director of Senior Services of the Jacob Riis Senior Center. “Our older adults are often forced to use the upstairs facilities because many of them simply will not set foot in the downstairs bathrooms.”
Over the past three years, Council Member Van Bramer allocated $300,000 towards the renovation of bathrooms within the senior center as well as an air conditioning system for the popular indoor gym at Jacob Riis Settlement House in Queensbridge. Now NYCHA is being called upon towards actually completing the renovation of this particular community center in Western Queens.