The latest Queens Week report takes a look at one organization that has created a financial services hub for public housing residents. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
Queensbridge North and South is the largest public housing complex in the city. Made up of 26 six-story buildings in Long Island City, it's just one of several large complexes located in a tight geographic area in Queens.
"It's 96 buildings in a six-block radius," says Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound. "The housing authority says they have 10,000 people on the lease. I believe, don't tell nobody, there's probably double that amount."
Urban Upbound, formerly known as the East River Development Alliance, is an organization determined to break the cycle of poverty in public housing neighborhoods.
"It is not a handout. It's a hand up," Taylor says. "It's giving residents the tools and resources to gain economical mobility and financial self-sufficiency."
A look at the statistics indicates that that's no easy task. Taylor says the average income here is $23,000, and that's for those who are working. While unemployment in New York City is around 8.6 percent, Taylor says that "in public housing, it's 16 percent, and then, between the ages of 18 and 24, it's about 30 percent unemployment."
Addressing the community's variety of needs with a variety of services is nothing novel. What is novel, Taylor says, is the way he's been able to integrate those services, not under one roof, per se, but on one corner. Across the past decade, his group has snatched up storefronts as they became available, slowly building what he calls an urban campus.
"If you walk around this neighborhood and you see people walking in the credit union, walking in the workforce site, walking in any one of these portals of service mode, you see the appreciation and the joy and the pride," Taylor says.
In our next segment, NY1 will follow Taylor on a tour of his campus to find out how the different agencies collaborate to address clients' needs in a more complete and cohesive way.
"It helped me see more jobs that are out there for me," says one person.
"I’ve established a budget that I think I can work with and stick with," says another.