DR_Background.jpg

policy aGENDA

IMMIGRATION

Overall Recommendations
QBP-Elect Richards is committed to “Empowering New New Yorkers.” Immigrants make up 64% of the workforce in Queens and almost half of the borough’s population. The committee should focus its efforts primarily on making desired services accessible, and partnering with, to build the capacity of existing organizations servicing the immigrant community. Desired, meaning services have been in demand by immigrants living in Queens, and accessible, meaning that all immigrants will be able to utilize these resources.
Focus 1: Create an Immigrant Welcome Center One-Stop-Shop for “New New Yorkers” at Borough Hall (resources for securing identification, immigration assistance, business creation, language services, etc.)
Focus 2: Partner with Queens Organizations that have Histories of Assisting Immigrants (nfps, faith based institutions, etc.)
Focus 3: Keeping ICE Out of Courthouses 

COMMUNITY AFFAIRS (CONSTITUENT SERVICES)

Overall Recommendations
How do we help make city services more responsive to the needs of Queens residents, businesses and institutional users, whether with regards to quality or efficiency? And what can Borough Hall do to make it easier for residents to access basic city services? You should feel free to interpret these questions broadly, to encompass not only public-facing services, like snow removal and trash pickup, but also basic systems or processes such as procurement.
Focus 1: Inequity in the Delivery and Accessibility of Basic Services
Focus 2: Accountability and Data Collection (consider Chief Data Officer or upgraded CMS)
Focus 3: Establishing a Business Friendly Environment (consider Business Ombudsman)
Focus 4: Technology Improvements (explore possibilities of digitizing letter and proclamation requests, improve BP website and portals, engage a digital community of expert volunteers, development of “Our Queens” app for constituent inputs)

PERSONNEL AND APPOINTMENTS

Overall Recommendations
Queens is affectionately known as the “World’s Borough” because it is the most diverse place on the planet. Queens Borough Hall should also reflect its vibrant diversity in its staff, management and representatives on boards. A Borough Hall staff that can understand first-hand the wide variety of cultures, languages and ethnic backgrounds that makes Queens a melting pot ultimately improves upon quality of service delivery. The Black Lives Matters movement has further cast a spotlight on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace in both the public and private sectors. Borough Hall can lead Queens by example to be a true reflection of the constituency it serves. 

COMMUNICATIONS

Overall Recommendations
In light of the pandemic hitting seniors and communities of color at an alarming rate, and in the shadow of the dramatic increase in youth engagement in the recent election, it is imperative that Queens Borough Hall continues to engage across the diverse spectrum of the Queens community to continue to convey the importance and relevance of local civic engagement to all Queens residents. Borough Hall must strive to communicate with the public by meeting them where they are, in their languages and utilizing the variety of platforms, languages and mediums Queens consumes.
Focus 1: Make Clear to the Public Borough Hall Priorities
Focus 2: Ensure that Quality City Services for Public Health, Economic Development, and Education are accessible to all Queens’ Residents
Focus 3: Advocate for Queens Voices during the City’s Budgetary Process
Focus 4: Utilize QPTV, Livestream Community Board and Borough Hall Meetings (zoom, teams, webex, FB, IG)

 

PLANNING

Overall Recommendations
Land use planning is critical to the production of volume, quality and the range of housing and development. It is key to guiding physical growth that supports healthy, vibrant, attractive communities, local business, entrepreneurship and employment. Queens neighborhoods need sustainable growth at a variety of income levels. So it is essential to create the kind of mixed-use districts into which businesses can expand with the right balance of Community Benefit Agreements to invite investors as true partners in building a better Queens.
Focus 1: Forge a Partnership with Community Boards through Regional Planners to Fully Assess Development Community Impacts
Focus 2: Establish Sustainability as a Cornerstone for all Projects
Focus 3: : Improve Infrastructure (Flood mitigation, Senior Friendly Districts, Transportation Upgrades, NYCHA (see Housing Policy))
Focus 4: Work Hand-In-Hand with Community Boards and Commercial Corridors to Reimagine and Rezone Select Corridors

 

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

Overall Recommendations
The diversity of Queens requires Borough Hall to reach across to a wide variety of ethnicities, and faiths, to youth and seniors, to LGBTQIA, women and people with disabilities alike. In response to the pandemic, so many hyper-local and grassroots organizations representing these special groups have significantly stepped up to provide resources to their communities and to provide community services sometimes outside of their original scope or mission. Borough Hall partnered with many of these organizations to provide PPE, food, and civic information for census and voting. The QBP-elect will continue to build upon and strengthen these critical partnerships.
Focus 1: Engage and Expand Advisory Boards
Focus 2: Build Upon Critical Intergovernmental Relationships for Queens
Focus 3: Leverage a digital platform to build “Our Queens” Community

 

EDUCATION

Overall Recommendations
The QBP-elect is committed to supporting Queens students from Pre-K to college to career. The pandemic exposed major fault lines in Queens in the necessary transition to remote learning with 34,000 students who have left the NYC School public system this year so far, making the trifecta of closing the digital divide, widening access to digital devices and digital literacy all top priority. Furthermore, modern technology can be utilized to plan for the ultimate reopening of schools to ensure the health and safety of our youth and teachers alike.
Focus 1: Closing the Digital Divide in Education by Establishing a Public-Private Partnership to Subsidize Costs
Focus 2: Supporting After-School and Gifted/Talented Programs
Focus 3: Safe and Clean Classrooms
Focus 4: Strengthen Parent Engagement in Schools

POLICY

Overall Recommendations
Borough Hall policy will focus primarily on a strong recovery from the global pandemic. In addition, the dire need for more affordable housing requires immediate relief to tenants who are on the brink of being evicted and for better investment in housing infrastructure. Finally, responding to long needed reforms in criminal justice and public safety, Borough Hall will support programs that find new solutions to the corrections system and provide funding to community based initiatives that increase safety and security.
Focus 1: Improve Access to Health Care; Create a Network of Urgent Care, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Social Services Providers Improving Geographic Distribution Throughout the Entire Borough

Focus 2: Food Security; Elimination of healthy food deserts, Urban Agriculture Zoning in low income and underserved neighborhoods with residents as key participants, promote use of benefits at farmer’s markets and expansion of urban farms and markets for locally sourced food.
Focus 3: Housing
Working directly with CBs and commercial corridors to identify development sites
Ensure affordable housing requirements in new developments and encourage mixed-use projects
Improve sustainable design and the amenities of projects
Support the continued robust funding of HPD and HDC programs
Advocate for supportive housing for the most disadvantaged
Expand options for the physically disabled and those suffering from mental illness
Establish a process for citing homeless facilities

Invest in NYCHA infrastructure

Funding for housing court attorneys to fight evictions
Focus 4: Public Safety, Criminal Justice and Police-Community Relations
Advocate for more equitable redistribution of NYPD funding to communities of color for crisis management programs to prevent violence and to fund youth programs
Closing Rikers Island and finding alternatives to incarceration such as service-based diversion and rehabilitation programs

 

TRANSPORTATION

Overall Recommendations
As the largest borough in NYC, it is important that Queens has safe and affordable transportation and its infrastructure needs are met down to the last mile. New developments in transportation and zoning should reflect the direct needs of Queens residents. Transportation equity in Queens allows for better quality of life and further economic development. It is essential now more than ever to keep Queens connected to its vibrant neighborhoods such as Downtown Flushing, Jamaica and the Rockaways as they continue to grow as important cultural hubs for NYC locals, business and tourists alike.
Focus 1: Hold the MTA Accountable for Investments and Improvements in Infrastructure
Focus 2: Eliminate Public Transportation Deserts by Providing a Variety of Transport Options e.g. Bike Share, Zip Car, Scooters, Shuttles, etc.
Focus 3: Achieving Vision Zero by Enacting Public Safety Measures e.g. Creating More Bike Lanes and Stronger Laws against Reckless Drivers
Focus 4: Achieve Fairer Fares and Expand LIRR service to Eastern Queens
Focus 5: Shorten Intra-borough North/South Transportation Times

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Overall Recommendations
Only the Borough President can lead and coordinate the diverse stakeholders in Queens to strengthen the economy in the face of serious challenges like the pandemic. A horizontal independent firm-based economy, which relies on large corporations has not historically existed in Queens, but rather a horizontal network-based economy enabling Queens to utilize our comparative advantages. All throughout 2020, businesses and community groups pivoted to come to the need of our first responders and essential workers so that we could stay safe, helping the needy, providing food and PPE. Now it is everyone’s responsibility, to form partnerships — from civic, business, labor, and institutional entities — to promote the creation of jobs in Queens and a sustainable, resilient economy.
Focus 1: Strengthen Small Businesses Impacted by the Pandemic and Establish an Economic Recovery Center with QEDC and SBS (consider solutions e.g. bringing businesses offline to online (O2O), outdoor retail sales, open streets, establishing a business ombudsman)
Focus 2: Engage RDCs, Chambers and BIDs as they Support Business with Programs for Job Creation and that Foster Sustainable Growth (e.g. providing advice on renewing leases, social media and marketing, adherence to cybersecurity obligations on small businesses)
Focus 3: Utilize Placemaking as a Form of Economic Development to Attract Business, Investment, Tourism and Residents
Focus 4: Enhance and Expand the Growing and Essential Ecosystem of Technology and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem
Focus 5: Strengthen the Connection between Education and Workforce Development Building a Pipeline from Skillset to

Careers
Focus 6: Leverage Public-Private Partnerships for Sustainable Economic Growth

 

TOURISM, ARTS, PARKS, ENTERTAINMENT AND SPORTS (TAPES)

Overall Recommendations
As the most diverse place on earth, Queens has unparalleled art, culture, world class parks, libraries, sports and a rich entertainment scene. And Queens is a gastronomy destination that is second to none. We ask the TAPES committee to explore each of these areas and to organically and creatively tie them all together to form a consistent whole capable of attracting tourists and to form a richer unity among Queens residents.
Focus 1: Tourism - Create Tourism Welcome Centers at the Airports and Reimagine Maps of Queens to show culture, neighborhood and food journeys, train youth to explore careers in the travel trade
Focus 2: Arts - Promote Queens as a home for artists to develop and rehearse new work, catalog and make empty/unused space available, support affordable live/work spaces
Focus 3: Parks - Ensure Queens parks are fully funded and major effort to improve maintenance and program at FMCP/The Alliance to support and arts and culture (see Prospect and Central Parks)
Focus 4: Entertainment - Embrace live musicians who have been hit hard by the pandemic; plan festivals for jazz, hip-hop, world music, film, dance working the the NYC Nightlife Mayor
Focus 5: Sports - Partner with sports franchises do more in the Queens community (for example, sponsor a Queens Small Business Night series at Citi Field, networking, info sessions, celebrations of small business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs in conjunction with the Mets)

 

COMMUNITY BOARDS

Overall Recommendations
Community Boards (CBs) play a vital role in ensuring sustainable growth and prosperity of Queens. CBs deserve investment to build their capacity, modernization through technology, and training to better empower their communities and members. In light of 2018’s Ballot Proposal 3, there are significant changes taking place with respect to the term, application and the appointment process for Community Board members. These changes in governance should be transparent and organized and can usher in a new modern era for Community Boards across Queens.
Focus 1: Engage and Recruit a Members Reflective of Districts and Borough Demographics
Focus 2: Set Expectations and Educate on CB Capital and Expense Budget Requests through Borough Hall Regional Planners
Focus 3: Bridge Gaps Between Developers and the CBs for Communication and Collaboration
Focus 4: Expand Usage of District Offices for More Accessible City Services and/or Satellite Borough Hall Offerings
Focus 5: Accelerate Digital Transformation by Streamlining Across CBs for a More User Friendly Tool to be Utilized Across the Borough

 

SENIOR & VETERANS AFFAIRS

Overall Recommendations
Many seniors and veterans face unique challenges, and far too often are ignored or overlooked. To combat these challenges, we must ensure the wellness of these patriots who have fought abroad or endured many hardships in order for us to have the liberty and freedoms we enjoy today - whether it was defending our country or advocating to the country for Civil Rights. Immigrant seniors and immigrant veterans alike took significant risks to leave their motherlands in search of the American Dream and built many of the Queens communities we live in today. Queens Borough Hall will establish measured solutions and effective programming to promote the physical, mental, and financial health of our seniors and veterans through education and intentional initiatives.
Focus 1: Fulfilling the Health Care and Mental Needs of Seniors and Veterans
Focus 2: Expanding Housing for Seniors and Veterans
Focus 3: Alternatives to Incarceration for Seniors and Veterans e.g. Expanding Veterans Courts
Focus 4: Combatting Elder Abuse
Focus 5: Reskilling, Upskilling and Retooling Retirees for Second Careers and Supporting Entrepreneurship Capabilities for

Veterans to Qualify for SDVOB Opportunities Available Uniquely to Veterans

YOUTH

Overall Recommendations
With 30% of our population under the age of 24, the future of Queens lies in the hands of our youth. We have asked, what can the Queens Borough President Office do - whether in partnership or by itself - to ensure that all of the city’s diverse youth are on a positive path leading towards a productive future? How can we instill in them a sense of community, history and pride in their home borough; prepare them to be leaders in the years to come; and help them work towards financially secure futures?
Focus 1: Giving Youth a Voice and Increasing Civic Engagement
Focus 2: Ensuring Comprehensive Health, Well-Being and Reengaging the Disengaged
Focus 3: Providing Community Service & Volunteer Opportunities Inclusive of Leadership Development
Focus 4: Facilitating Internship and Career Pathways
Focus 5: Unlocking Potential, Direction & Vision through Mentorship and Networking Opportunities

Donovan Richards BLM .jpeg