Queens Lawmakers On The Move March 9, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Analysis Shows Modern-Day Redlining in Queens 

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, chaired a field hearing on modern-day redlining, after which he unveiled a new analysis confirming that race, and in particular, the density of black and Hispanic populations, is the predominant determinant of bank branch density, and banking deserts.

The analysis isolated census data, and found that Queens zip codes with less than 25% black and Hispanic populations had a total of 193 bank branches, for a total population of 609,655 people. That’s one for every 3,159 people. Whereas zip codes that were over 75% black and Hispanic populations were found to have one bank branch for every 22,936 people, or one bank branch for every 22,936 people. That’s over seven times fewer banks in predominantly black and brown communities. Income disparities did not explain these differences, which existed even in higher-income communities of color.

During the panel, Meeks was joined by his colleagues, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Emanuel Cleaver, Al Green, Yvette Clarke, Kathleen Rice, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who heard testimony from a panel of experts on affordable housing and banking marginalized communities, including from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANDH), Chhaya CDC, Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB), Inclusiv, and the National Bankers Association. 

“My office’s analysis proves what we’ve anecdotally seen here in Queens all along: the more a community is black and brown, the less banks you see. What’s startling here is just how disproportionate that reality is. Redlining cannot not be spoken of in the past tense, as a dark chapter in our nation’s history. Despite our proximity to Wall Sreet, relining is very much still present here in Queens, hurting minority communities’ ability to get a loan to start a small business or a mortgage to get home and lift themselves into the middle class. I suspect it is very much present throughout much of America’s minority communities,” said Meeks.

Meng, Velazquez Call For More Resources To Combat Coronavirus

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) and Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) this weekend led the city’s congressional delegation including U.S. Reps. Nita M. Lowey, Eliot Engel, Adriano Espaillat, Carolyn Maloney, Gregory W. Meeks, Jerrold Nadler, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Max Rose, and José E. Serrano in announcing that they will be sending today to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agencies to expedite and expand critical resources to help with the city’s response to the coronavirus.

The letter calls for the expedited approval of testing approaches developed by private entities and the authorizing of automated COVID-19 testing. 

The correspondence also calls for clarification on how the CDC is working with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to establish uniform criteria for when travelers should undergo enhanced COVID-19 screening at ports of entry such as at New York airports.

“As our nation enters the next phase of its collective response to the COVID-19 outbreak, all levels of government must collaborate seamlessly to ensure that quick and expansive testing is readily available. The work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are essential to the response by the City of New York, and cities across the nation, to this public health emergency,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The delivery of testing kits by the CDC to New York City’s Public Health Laboratory (PHL) was a step in the right direction. However, as the nation’s most populous city responds to this emergency, it is already clear that the current testing capacity is insufficient to meet our public health needs, which is why we call for automated testing and other resources.”

Constantinides Urges Calm Following First Reported Coronavirus Case in Queens

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, parts of Long Island City, Woodside) urged the public to remain calm, unified and vigilant following the first coronavirus (COVID-19) case reported in Queens over the weekend.

“With the first reported case of coronavirus in Queens, it’s imperative that we work together to stay healthy and vigilant. Wash your hands, sneeze into your elbow, and avoid touching your face. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide timely updates,” said Constantinides.

“This is also a time to stand against xenophobia in the discussions around coronavirus. Our Asian brothers and sisters have already been unfairly profiled, stereotyped, and targeted in connection with the virus. Let’s make an effort to support Asian-American businesses during this time and not allow misguided fears to govern our lives. Most of all, we all need to remain calm. We’re all in this together,” the lawmaker added.