My daughter and I lived in Corona, Queens, for 28 years. Over that time, our landlord repeatedly refused to repair essential appliances, from the fridge to the oven to the air conditioner during peak summer months.I personally fixed and paid money out of my pocket for all repairs. When our basement flooded, not only did he refuse to clean up the damage, but had the audacity to stand by his demand for a rent increase. My family had enough.
As many of my fellow New Yorkers are forced to do, I took time off of work and embarked on the search for a new home. This year, the average asking rent in Queens increased 12 percent year-over-year, surpassing the city-wide average of 10.7 percent.
When I finally found a place suitable for my family, a 15% broker’s fee soon followed along with moving costs upwards of $8,500 – rendering the dream of moving we had stalled until we could afford it. I felt relief and fear – relief I could stay in Queens, but fear set in knowing that may not be the reality for at least a full year’s time. But our story of displacement is sadly not unique, and is in fact a heartbreaking reality for countless Queens families, particularly in recent years.
When Queens Borough President Donovan Richards expressed that 100% affordable housing at the state-owned Creedmoor site in Eastern Queens was achievable, neighbors and I were encouraged, but eager to see real action taken. Our community’s optimism for the 55+ acre site only grew when Governor Hochul announced her housing plan that included utilizing state-owned land for housing. Additionally, earlier this year, the Governor promised to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Creedmoor site in particular.
Creedmoor became a symbol of hope and potential for our community.
However, as the months have gone by we have yet to see meaningful action from the Governor, and it increasingly appears as though her housing agenda is focused on creating small portions of barely affordable housing in wealthy areas designated for New Yorkers earning over 160% of area median income (AMI).
Creedmoor is acres of largely obsolete land holding unused state-owned facilities. Reflecting on my own experience, I can’t help but think how my life could have been changed had it already been developed when I was apartment hunting. It is a once-in-a-lifetime site that could transform the community with space for 3,000 housing units, parks, businesses, schools and churches. Yet, as the time passes, Queens residents like my daughter and I continue experiencing the repercussions of New York’s affordability crisis. In 2023, the median Queens home sale price was up 10% from a year ago, reaching a record high of $648,000 – well out of reach for typical Queens residents like myself.
Time is of the essence. Governor Hochul and Borough President Richards need to keep their promise, join forces, and develop Creedmoor into truly affordable housing — or our generation of Queens locals will be forced out of the borough we call home.
Alma Reyes works as an outreach worker for Queens Community House, an office assistant, and a house cleaner