From public health concerns to affordable housing crises, many New Yorkers find themselves feeling unsure about a lot of topics regarding their well being.
The City Hall Resource Fair, hosted at Queens Borough Hall and presented by the Mayor’s Office as a part of the “City Hall in Your Borough” initiative, was intended to make city agencies more accessible to Queens residents.
The event featured representatives and staff from the American Red Cross, Economic Development Corporation, and departments of Planning and Health and Mental Hygiene, to name a few.
Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, admired the New Yorkers who take the time to ask questions and gain more knowledge about COVID-19 and vaccinations.
“The most common question that I get is ‘How do I keep my family members safe?’” said Chokshi. “It’s often not about how they can keep themselves safe, and I think that speaks to the spirit of New Yorkers and being concerned for one another,”
This proactive approach was evident in the large crowd who attended the resource fair.
Toward the end of the event, Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived to hold constituent office hours, which accumulated a long line of people with questions.
Sherry Algredo, first vice chair of Community Board 9, spoke to the mayor with her daughter, who attends a high school in Queens.
Algredo expressed her concerns about how people on buses take up unnecessary space in the name of social distancing, leaving students like her daughter to stand with heavy backpacks.
And then, when those students get to school, they have to carry their backpacks with them all day because they don’t have a secure place to store them.
“I’m scared for her to go on the bus,” said Algredo. “The mayor keeps saying that with the vaccination rate going up and the COVID case numbers going down, things will get better in time, but that’s not an immediate remedy,”
All public schools have locker rooms closed for the time being to prevent students from congregating.
This is something that affects students citywide, said Kenichi Wilson, chair of CB9. His daughter also attends a high school in Queens.
“Students are required to bring electronic devices to school, so during gym she’s stuck carrying a backpack while walking around the track,” he said. “I suggested at the last community board meeting that the gym teachers could provide a secure room where students could drop their belongings.”
A New York attorney and Queens resident named Michael, who requested his last name be omitted, said he would have liked to speak to the mayor but missed out on the opportunity.
“I was at the event for almost two hours, and no one knew he was here,” he said.
However, Michael did make the most of the time, visiting almost every table with questions, ideas and concerns.
“I just came here to find out who’s doing what,” he said. “I met with the people who handle affordable housing, and I asked them about the wonderful opportunity that would’ve been affordable housing here instead of a jail with 1,100 parking spaces. They agreed it would be a good idea,” he said.
“It was great to be able to talk to them and try to remedy these problems,” he added. “My whole ambition in coming here was to try to do the right thing and be with people to try to make Queens a great place.”