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For Immediate Release: Contact:
Tuesday, February 8, 2005 Corey Bearak
(718) 343-6779


SStatement to the Queens Borough Board, Tuesday, February 8, 2005
Presented by Gail Eisenberg, Executive Director
Prepared Corey Bearak, Esq., Chair, Executive Committee

Thank you for this opportunity for the Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council [NEQJCC] to comment on the City Budget for Fiscal Year 2006 which begins July 1, 2005.  The Council represents 30 synagogues and other community, educational, fraternal, and religious institutions and organizations in some of the communities which form the City's backbone: Bayside, Bay Terrace, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hillcrest,  Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.  The Council has worked since its inception to maintain Northeast Queens as an attractive place to live and raise a family. We find that when people look at northeast Queens as a place to raise their families, they compare our neighborhoods to communities in the City's eastern and northern suburbs and across the Hudson River.  People shop for quality schools, secure communities, predominantly low density housing, proximity to transportation, reasonable shopping options, health care and local recreation.

The City budget must include policies keep the middle class families the city covets often leaves and may be harder and harder to replace.

Let's focus on programs serving our community.  Through last year, the NEQJCC relied solely on UJA-Federation to service the community.  However, we achieved our 501.C3 which we look to use to embark on expanded outreach,  neighborhood development, educational and  youth and family cultural programs and new community partnerships to improve life in Queens. As we begin a new partnership with the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty year we ask your support for our outreach, neighborhood development and educational/ cultural programs.  We also thank Councilman David Weprin for his efforts in securing  DYCD (Department of Youth and Community Development) funding that bolstered our capabilities this year.  More than any other non-profit, our lay leaders and members invest much time and effort in our programs.  Last fall, the Council organized a program to educate the public on the Medicare Prescription Drug Card and, with community partners including NAACP's Northeast Queens Branch and the Queens Civic Congress, on a workshop, "Building Against Bias."

NEQCC seeks $5,000 per council member from DYCD allocations to staff and support our Building Against Bias program as an on-going effort.

NEQCC  also requests $23,000 to fund a permanent food pantry, which will serve the residents of Northeast Queens.   The growing need in Northeast Queens for a food pantry became evident to us during a food drive that NEQJCC conducted last April.  In one month we collected over 2,000 pounds of food and distributed every pound to hungry Queens residents.

As a result of 9/11, we received Project Liberty funding to reach out and serve our community; our outreach numbers were #1 for New York State!   With Project Liberty funds no longer available, NEQJCC request the Council and the Borough President help identify replacement funds so that we can continue our work -- since the needs of our people remain the same; $50,000 would help our community.  In the past we ran a clergy breakfast and Hates Crimes, Women Empowerment, Education and Legislative Forum.  We also organized cultural programs.  Our programs - widely publicized -- are open to and attended by members of our borough's diverse communities.  The NEQJCC maintains one of the most effective programs to get the word out using both traditional and new technologies. A lack of funding endangers these very programs.

We would like to promote five summer  concerts at a cost of $25,000. We aim to include additional parks besides Cunningham where an existing series takes place including Crocheron, Alley and perhaps Peck.   NEQJCC would appreciate your support so more residents learn about and attend these cultural offerings.  View this as an opportunity to expand the Jewish Music Under the Stars summer concerts series to additional northeast parks.

Our partner, the Samuel Field YM&YWHA serves senior, youth and special needs populations.  NEQJCC appreciate past support for the "Y," particularly from our elected officials; it's important the budget adequately resource the Y's programs.  This includes Beacon schools in Bayside, Fresh Meadows and Floral Park.

The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty also serves needy populations here and merits your continued support. At our Legislation Forum 2004 at the Y 11 months ago many of you were able to inspect Met Council's "Project Handyman" van; this fully equipped mobile hardware store provides small repairs for seniors and others who need assistance; NEQJCC supports funding to make the vans roll again.

A special initiative in parts of Bellerose, Floral Park and New Hyde Park, the NORC-WOW -- Naturally Occurring Retirement Community Without Walls, offers a new and unique model to extend a program that delivers senior services to apartment complex residents to homeowner communities.  The program requires government support as we endeavor to make this model program work and offer a basis for similar NORC-WOW's throughout Queens (and the City).    Helping seniors stay in their homes and communities longer -- rather than moving on to a nursing homes -- saves significant taxpayer dollars on the Medicaid side. 

We would also be remiss not to note the need for weekend service, particularly on Sundays, at all of our branch libraries.  Many northeast branch offer only weekend service.

It is also important to maintain support for the essential senior services funded by the Borough President through DFTA [Department for the Aging] and currently delivered here by our borough community council.

A word on property taxes; they rose significantly and City's tax policies wrongly perpetuate a subsidy of illegal occupancies which crowd some schools in our southern neighborhoods (and other parts of the borough). The City similarly fails to collect the correct taxes from the illegal commercial uses of our homes.  This costs taxpayers billions of dollars. These revenues fund a property tax reduction, co-op condo tax equity and targeted tax reductions for middle and working class homeowners.

In addition, explore regional models for funding agencies.  Some communities may require more of a service than others.  A citywide approach rarely works.  As long as the basic package gets divided reasonably and fairly, we believe equity should be achieved.  Instead of a pie, think of a package of several smaller slices, cut up differently but when placed on each person's plate, the amount of dessert is about the same.

Thank you.

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