Flushing pol releases district trends report
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 31, 2019 | 908 views | 0 0 comments | 80 80 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the help of four summer interns, Assemblyman Ron Kim released a district trends report on Friday that highlighted his constituents’ biggest concerns.

The main takeaway, Kim said, is that in places like Flushing, residents are continuing to “struggle from great economic distress.”

“There’s poverty all around us,” he said. “You just have to go outside and look around.”

According to the report, which gathered and analyzed constituent cases from 2017 to the first half of 2019, the top issues Kim’s office has handled concern housing, tax preparation and translation services.

In the last two years, the Flushing assemblyman’s office has fielded more than 3,000 inquiries or requests for assistance related to housing, the report says. During that time, they helped nearly 2,000 people apply to NYCHA, affordable housing developments and senior housing.

Although two large affordable housing developments were built in Flushing, Macedonia Plaza in 2013 and One Flushing in 2018, they collectively received 124,000 applications for just 374 units.

“We need access to more housing,” Kim said. “That’s the state of our crisis.”

The assemblyman’s office received more constituent visits for tax assistance than any other issue in the last two years. That’s because since 2013, Kim has partnered with the nonprofit group Urban Upbound to provide free tax filing preparation.

From 2017 to 2019, the office served nearly 4,000 individuals and families, including 1,374 in the most recent tax season.

Kim’s office has also focused heavily on translating, reading and writing letters, application forms and bills for the elderly and residents with limited English abilities.

On the legislative side, the issue that received the most inquiries this year was the housing crisis. Kim, who supported new rent reform laws, said rent-stabilized tenants will save hundreds of dollars a month thanks to the legislation.

He said almost “40 to 50 percent” of his district, especially parts of Downtown Flushing, will be impacted by the rent laws.

“It’s a huge uplift for some of these communities that are struggling,” he said. “We’re hoping it will lessen some of their burden.”

Kim said his office is sending direct mailers in different languages to inform tenants about the changes. But he said it’s also on the agencies, district attorney’s offices and prosecutors to enforce the laws.

In the past legislative session, Kim’s office also fielded a high volume of calls about a bill that would repeal religious exemptions from vaccinations. He said most calls came from out of state, and “usually from the same group of people.”

But the Flushing lawmaker sided with mainstream medical associations and health officials who declared the measles outbreak a public health issue.

Lastly, Kim said he received many calls about the proposed changes to the entrance process for the city’s elite high schools.

Most were opposed to reforms, he said, including calls from out-of-state alumni from the specialized high schools.

“They were primarily concerned that the solution they were offering may not result in the outcome they are seeking,” said Kim, referring to the mayor’s plan to scrap the current entrance exam. “Based on the merits of the issue, it may not be the right solution.”

Looking forward to the next legislative session, Kim said he wants to reform economic development processes in New York. But he noted that the governor has been opposed to even the simplest reform bills.

“Everyone can agree that our taxpayer money should be held accountable,” Kim said.
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