Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) sent a letter to the New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday February 14, 2012 regarding the potential closure of the Queens Community House Beacon Program, which operates at J.H.S. 190 Russell Sage Junior High School. While the center was cited for closure as part of city-wide cut backs to the budget in FY 2013, Assemblyman Hevesi questioned whether the method of making allocations based upon zoning needs should take priority over a program’s proven success.
The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development deemed the center to be operating in a low needs zone, at least in relation to the surrounding community’s demographics. However, the Queens Community House Beacon Program serves upwards of 1,200 students each year, 250 more than they are contractually required by the city to enroll. Almost 70% of those enrolled were African American or Hispanic students and they represented zip codes ranging as far away from Forest Hills as Long Island City, Rosedale, and Jamaica. The programs leadership development focus makes it popular with youth all across Queens.
“The Queens Community House Beacon Program has proven itself to be not only a successful program, but one that is highly sought after in Queens,” Hevesi said. “While I understand that the task of planning the yearly budget requires difficult decisions, I ask you to not cut funding to this program based solely upon its operation in an area that is zoned as a low needs zip code. I believe that reviewing the achievements of these programs should be the primary factor in determining the allocation of Beacon funding in FY 2013.”