Queens NYCHA Tenant Reps Pledge To Support Amazon

Feb 11, 2019
In The News

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY – Just days after Amazon reportedly began to re-consider its move to NYC, the retail giant got some Queens love.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, a member of the Amazon HQ2 advisory committee, led a Monday rally supporting the company's plan for a Long Island City base. Joining him were the tenant association presidents of four Queens NYCHA developments, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney and Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership and another member of Amazon's community advisory committee.

"We have a cadre of residents that are standing behind us, all of which understand the potential of development in our communities," Taylor said outside Queensbridge Houses, the country's largest public-housing complex, that lies in the community Amazon wants to build in.

"We need to speak to them and not allow people coming from outside of our communities to speak for us. You cannot speak for us. You haven't lived here."

The complex is home to about 6,600 residents, according to to the New York City Housing Authority. 

Maloney said locals can support Amazon bringing jobs to the area while still questioning other aspects of the HQ2 plan, like the public subsidies or the commitment to providing entry-level jobs.

Two days earlier, Queensbridge Houses was the site of a markedly different Amazon rally: Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and State Senator Michael Gianaris joined 40 local advocates in petitioning residents to oppose the HQ2 plan. The group gathered 400 signatures, a spokeswoman said, and about three-quarters of the residents they spoke with opposed the deal.

"I don't want to hear from hecklers that came over here like sneaky thieves in the night over the weekend without even a courtesy to let us know they were coming. That's disrespectful," April Simpson, president of the Queensbridge tenant association, said at the rally. "The information that's being provided is wrong."

"We've been representing our community for years, so what makes you think we aren't going to represent them still, today with Amazon?" Simpson added.

Reacting to Monday's rally, Queensbridge resident Yun Ru Tong said: "Today's pro-Amazon press conference is an obvious response to residents' clear opposition to this deal and does not represent me or my neighbors."

Advocates for and against the HQ2 deal have doubled down on organizing efforts amid a Washington Post report that Amazon was reconsidering its Long Island City plan. Two people with direct knowledge of the company's thinking told The New York Times that the company had no plans to back out.