BY BRIANNA KNIBBS
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, the Association of the Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE) and other local leaders announced a pilot program this week that will bring street cleaning services and jobs to recovering homeless people in Southeast Queens.
“Jamaica Together” is a six-month program that will provide weekday cleanup services along Guy R. Brewer Boulevard between Tuskegee Airmen Way and 109th Avenue in Jamaica. The program will end on Oct. 30.
Jamaica Together will operate on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., during which time two full-time cleaning workers will be assigned to the corridor for each daily shift. The workers—who will be paid by ACE, a nonprofit organization that offers homeless people jobs, support and other services to help them obtain economic independence—will focus on the cleaning of sidewalks and tree pits and the removal of unwanted graffiti from walls and public areas.
“Jamaica is one of our borough’s core neighborhoods and it is critically important that we do all we can to make it a fantastic place to live, work and visit,” Katz said. “The Jamaica Together neighborhood cleaning program will contribute greatly to that effort by devoting a dedicated team of workers to cleaning and sprucing up the busy Guy R. Brewer Boulevard corridor. This program is just one part of our overall effort to revitalize Jamaica and maximize its potential as a residential and commercial hub.”
The cleaning services are co-sponsored by Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), Community Board 12, the Jamaica Now Leadership Council and the city’s Department of Sanitation.
“I am pleased to welcome the Jamaica Together program to the district as a means of promoting community pride and collaboration towards a worthy effort,” Miller said. “My constituents have responded favorably to these cleaning programs, and I am grateful to all of the partners who made this service possible.”
A supervisor from ACE will visit the corridor daily to oversee the cleaning operations. During the length of the pilot program, the cleaning services will be provided to the community free of charge by ACE in its effort to create job opportunities for individuals in need of workforce training. The Department of Sanitation will make extra visits to the neighborhood to pick up the trash collected by the ACE workers, while the Thomas White Jr. Foundation’s headquarters will be used to store the program’s cleaning supplies.
“Clean streets and sidewalks are part of building welcoming, vibrant communities,” Adams said. “Business districts and the residents of Jamaica deserve no less. As Jamaica continues to undergo a transformation, our streets provide the first impressions of our city.”
Jamaica was recently awarded a $10 million grant from the state as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), which aims to transform Jamaica and nine other neighborhoods across the state into vibrant communities. The grant will help to fund seven different projects that will catalyze development in Downtown Jamaica.
The cleanup program is also co-sponsored by the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council, a group of community leaders charged with implementing the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, which was developed by Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office. The plan, which was unveiled in 2015, outlines 26 strategic actions that will aid in the revitalization of Jamaica, and is being paid for through $153 million in public funding.
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