Sterling: My community

The neighborhood that I live in is Hollis, Queens. It is considered as part of Queens Community District 12 (NY.gov Department of City Planning), with a total population of 225,919 as of 2010. The majority of the community is African American or Black, which account for 67.1% of the total population, followed by Hispanic or Latino for 16.6% percent, then Asian at 11% and Whites with 5.7% of the population. It is rounded out by Native Americans and other races. The community is mostly made up of middle aged residents ages 35 to 54, which account for 30% of the population. The number declines sharply after 55-64, which accounts for 10 percent of the population. 24% of people have a less than high school education, 46% have a high school education, 20 percent have a bachelors or associates degree and 10 percent have graduates degree. Most of the travel is done by private vehicles at 49% of the population and public transportation accounts for 46 percent of the population (Movoto.com). Income is separated into 4 groups. The majority of the population makes $30,000 – $74,000 at 42% followed by $30,000 or less at 30%, $75000 – $149000 at 23% and $150000 and up at 5%(Movoto.com). The land use as of 2012 is most 1 -2 family residential 60%, followed by multi-family residential 7.5%, Institutions 7.4%, open space/recreation 6.5% commercial/office 4% (NY.gov Department of City Planning). The rest is used for transportation facilities, parking facilities, industrial and miscellaneous. The average home value is $383,900 (Zillow.com). Crime rates are on average with the rest of New York. One’s chances of being a victim in Queens is 1 out of 279 (NeighborhoodScout.com).

Jennifer, a middle aged woman, has worked as a school teacher for 30 years. She lived in Queens since she was 11 and has been a home owner for 24 years. She has a few concerns and observations she has noticed about Hollis, Queens, from her long length of residency. “Sustainability” to her means the ability to stay the same, which she says Queens has not. “Over the years, the community has become crowded. All they do is tear down old houses and put up two 2-family houses in its place. Sometimes 3!” She also complained that she has a lot of offers on her door about selling her house for immediate cash, and she believes they will tear her house down to  build multifamily homes. She also claims the city has stepped in and forbids the building of so many multi-family houses in her area.  NY.gov shows that in 1990, population was 201,293 in District 12. In 10 years the population increased by 11.1% to 223,602. However, the next 10 years only a 1% percent increase has happened in population. This could also be attributed to the slowing economy in the late 2000’s I asked her about food security and she said “Supermarkets in this area are fair to midland.” She says that there isn’t a lot of variety and that goes to white neighborhoods for better quality. She does note that food here seems to be cheaper than in other neighborhoods.

Rod, a 64 year old male, has lived in the community for about 20 years. He works at a local newspaper and does freelance work on the side. He believes that sustainability is used, “In order to keep something alive or going.” Rod seemed to not really have an interest in the subject of sustainability, he  thinks the idea of it is important in itself. His concern about his community is the lack of businesses in the area. “Most notably are banks; there isn’t [sic] a bank anywhere close in this neighborhood.” He also had a similar concern to Jennifer’s with the growing population due to multi-family housing, however he claims it’s because of immigration. He says that there is also a growth in the amount of foster care houses in the area. “Homes that had 1 family in it now have a lot of foster kids under one roof which attracts unwanted attention.” He remarks that like most residential areas you have to go elsewhere to shop for food, but he said it’s an area where people own property but have second class services. It’s not that the area is “poverty level” but it has similar problems, as if it were impoverished

Tamel, a 28 year old male, has lived in District 12 area of Queens his whole life. He works as a pharmacy messenger at a hospital in Manhattan. He feels “sustainability is the condition of things in his area”. His main concern is the condition of the roads in the neighborhood, which have gigantic potholes and which he feels is dangerous to drivers and pedestrians. Further, “There are abandoned houses and stores front scattered across the neighborhood with no development in sight.” He also notes that he has to travel pretty far to work and that there is no close subway. He also feels like some local parks in the neighborhood haven’t been maintained or cleaned.

Walking through my neighborhood, I noticed that there are plenty of drop boxes for unwanted items such as clothes and other things by the local supermarket. The streets are very clean and  the community is overall very quiet. There is shopping for food within a five block radius in multiple directions. These seem to be sustainability qualities of my neighborhood.

As I walked down 100th avenue, there were a lot of multi-family houses where single family houses used to be (photo 1 and 2).

Photo 1 - The previous one family home was burned down in a fire replaced by 2 multi-family homes.

Photo 1 – The previous one family home was burned down in a fire replaced by 2 multi-family homes.

Photo 2 – Two one family homes used to be here, now replaced with 3 multi-family houses.

Photo 2 – Two one family homes used to be here, now replaced with 3 multi-family houses.

This also creates a lot of garbage in the areas of those houses (photo 3). During my walk, I noticed that certain streets were neglected, with snow left un-shoveled, and this  made for nasty icy roads. There were  also a lot of cars parked on a particular corner of 195th Street and it made visibility hard for drivers, resulting in  a lot of car accidents.

 Photo 3- Lots of garbage located out of these multi-family homes.

Photo 3- Lots of garbage located out of these multi-family homes.

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