AOC Secures Millions For Bronx, Queens Community Projects In Latest Spending Bill
QUEENS, NY – In May 2021, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez formally requested nearly $7 million in funding for 10 community projects that would serve New York’s 14th Congressional District. Late Wednesday night, that funding passed the House as part of an omnibus bill to keep the federal government funded and open. The community projects include youth violence interventions, educational supports, workforce training in green jobs and home healthcare, and support for Plaza Del Sol Health Center and Elmhurst Hospital. The full list of projects can be found below.
“From reducing maternal mortality and youth violence, to training a new generation of green labor, I know these projects will be deeply impactful to our families throughout Queens and The Bronx,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez in a statement. “I also want to extend my appreciation to all our Bronx and Queens community partners who participated in the process resulting in these 10 nominations. For months, our team worked to develop a process around these funding requests that was fair, inclusive, thorough and people-driven. We are thrilled these projects will now became reality — and we confident that all these projects fulfill our nation’s collective goals, advance our collective pursuit of justice, and are deeply worthy of federal support.”
Under guidelines issued by the Appropriations Committee, each Representative could request funding for up to 10 projects in their community for fiscal year 2022. Funding is restricted to a limited number of project categories, and only state and local governments and eligible non-profit entities were permitted to receive funding. In order to inform her project requests, the Congresswoman’s office posted widely about the funding opportunity – in community boards, newsletters, social media and on town halls – and reached out to eligible groups to discuss possible projects and field questions. Proposals were ultimately evaluated based on their feasibility, cost, impact to NY-14, and service to historically underserved communities, among other criteria.
Rep. Ocasio Cortez’s Community Project Funding Requests:
Obstetrical Inpatient Facilities Renovation at Elmhurst Hospital
Elmhurst hospital will receive $3 million towards the renovation of its Obstetrical Inpatient facilities in order to provide a more modern, safe, and comfortable family-centered environment, one which meets current privacy standards. There will be two basic enhancements to their Obstetric Suite: privacy and comfort. When giving birth, privacy leads to a quieter environment which promotes recovery; it provides for better infection control; it is better for bonding between moms/parents and their babies. Healthy breastfeeding is fostered in single rooms. A patient and family centered environment leads to increased patient satisfaction and better health outcomes. It is imperative to provide equitable maternal care to the working class and immigrant communities surrounding Elmhurst hospital.
Stand Up to Violence Mental Health Services Expansion at Jacobi Hospital
Jacobi Hospital will receive funding to add mental health services under the umbrella of their Stand Up to Violence (SUV) Program. Modeled after the Chicago based Cure Violence program, SUV addresses youth violence in the Bronx by deploying outreach workers to respond to shootings to prevent retaliation and to assist family members of those who have been injured or killed. Additionally, they mentor at-risk youth on educational and job opportunities. They are proposing the addition of an emergency room social worker, case worker, part time psychiatrist and a creative arts or music therapist, all who are experienced in treating trauma/violence. It would allow them to offer wraparound therapeutic treatment to patients to help address root causes of youth violence.
Offshore Wind Workforce Development at SUNY Maritime
SUNY Maritime will receive funding to provide entry level training for high-wage earning jobs in the emerging regional offshore wind industry sector for New York State residents. Recognizing the growth in the offshore renewable energy sector, Maritime College established the Center of Excellence for Offshore Energy to focus on building a clean energy workforce and encouraging research in this growing area. Offshore Wind workforce training will be provided by their Professional Mariner Training Department, which has more than 20 years of providing professional training and education. Per New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) nearly 5,000 New York jobs could be created by the year 2035 through regional offshore wind deployment. For the first year, they will have the capacity to provide 24 classes and train/certify nearly 300 workers. SUNY Maritime is a member of NYSERDA’s Jobs and Supply Chain Technical Working Group, along with unions and other labor groups, to ensure best labor practices within the emerging sector.
Chhaya Community Development Corporation’s Capacity Building
Procuring a long term home for Chhaya that can house front line and administrative staff and create a community space will help them expand their housing assistance services to more than the 3,000 clients per year they currently serve. For the last two decades, Chhaya has served as one of the only pan-South Asian, HUD-certified Housing Counseling Agencies in the nation.
Creation of Family Support Counselors for Queens Community House
Queens Community House is seeking funding to create a Family Support Counselor (FSC) position at each of the two alternative high schools they operate in Corona and Elmhurst in partnership with the NYC Department of Education for students who have either dropped out or fallen substantially behind in credits and are at risk of dropping out. Currently, QCH has one FSC who provides case management support across five different schools. Last year, enrollment in those five programs and the Youth Development Center was 1,434 students. A dedicated FSC position at each of the alternative high schools will deepen and enhance the support they provide to students and their families while they continue to feel the effects of the pandemic. With this additional case management capacity, students and their families will have better access to the services they need to ensure that each of these students is empowered to earn their high school diploma.
Telehealth Technology Upgrade at Plaza del Sol Family Health Center
Urban Health Plan is requesting funding to expand its technology capability and provide more telehealth services. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, community health centers had to pivot quickly and make major technological shifts to ensure that they were able to provide telehealth services at a time when people were social distancing and/or unable to leave their homes due to illness or disability. An investment in telehealth services will allow Plaza del Sol to increase the number of individuals and families it serves, make services more readily available and convenient for people with limited mobility or transportation options, enhance patient care services, improve communication and coordination of care among members of a health care team and the patient, and provide support for self-management of health care.
Home Health Aide (HHA) Training Program
Sunnyside Community Services (SCS) requests funding to complete their home health aide (HHA) training program. It is an innovative workforce development program that helps un/underemployed individuals, primarily immigrant women, enter a career ladder in the healthcare field. They directly employ program graduates in unionized jobs within their two affiliated home care agencies. The requested funding will allow 300 community members to receive training, wrap-around services like the assistance of the job coach, soft skills training, and linkages to supportive services.
Expansion of Workforce Development Program for Emerald Isle Immigration Center
Emerald Isle Immigration Center has been a service provider in Queens and the Bronx for over 30 years. Their funding will further develop their workforce development services. This program would help register and assist 250 clients with Job Counseling and training. This project, if successfully funded, also leverages other investments already made to our community through the support of the USCIS Citizenship and Integration grant and will have a measurable impact on our community in Queens and in the Bronx.
Restoration & Stabilization of Two On-Water Platforms on Flushing Bay
Coastal Preservation Network requests funding to stabilize and restore two public access platforms that are in dire need of repair on Flushing Bay, NY. There are currently very few sites where College Point residents can go and safely enjoy the views available in their coastal community. Refurbishing and stabilizing these platforms would enhance safety and provide waterfront access to a community that has limited open spaces.
Safety, Learning, and College Access Program for Sunnyside Community Services
Sunnyside Community Services (SCS) requests funding to institute the Safety, Learning, and College Access program at the Woodside Houses Cornerstone community center, a public housing-based community center in Woodside, Queens. Funding will go towards supporting 70 young people who are primarily low-income people of color, supplementing existing educational services to offer the “Too Good for Violence” curriculum, which utilizes social learning theory to develop interpersonal, pro-social, and peaceful behaviors that are facilitated by trained staff in order to build safer relationships and communities.
Banner Image: Community Improvement. Image Credit – Jason Leung
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