With all the disasters — natural and otherwise — wreaking havoc across the country as of late, as well as the ongoing state of the economy, two presentations at this month’s Community Board 13 meeting on Monday night took on added significance.
Representing the city’s Department of the Aging, Darnley Jones said areas around the borough are still trying to recuperate from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, particularly in the Rockaways, where he estimated it will take another five years to fully recover.
“You have to remain strong,” he said, indicating that approximately 400 residents of the borough are still not back in their homes, seven months after the storm.
When a disaster strikes, he said, “We have to always be checking on our fellow man,” highlighting the particular importance of looking out for the elderly.
He recommended that seniors sign up for the Red Dot Program, which works in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service to contact next of kin if any suspicions arise concerning the well-being of an elderly person.
He also spoke of several services offered by his agency, including the Case Management program, which provides assistance to seniors based on an analysis of their financial situations and their ability to live by themselves.
In addition, the department oversees 77 senior centers, and offers home-delivered meals via the Meals on Wheels program, as well as legal services on matters ranging from wills to evictions, and transportation services.
Jones also stressed the importance of having a go-bag ready in cases of emergency.
Among other items, the bag should contain not only one’s medications but a list of all prescription drugs one requires; a mylar blanket, which can be folded down to the size of a handkerchief; a poncho, in case of bad weather; a notebook and pen; a bottle of water; glow-sticks in case of a blackout; a flashlight with batteries (not inserted); a portable radio (with batteries, not inserted); and a document check list.
He said those seeking further information should contact him at email@example.com or at (212) 442-1079.
The Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica, a not-for-profit organization committed to revitalizing neighborhoods in Queens, was also represented at the meeting.
Robert Tilley, a foreclosure services counselor, discussed a national media campaign to educate the public and housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.
The campaign, known as “Fair Housing Is Your Right. Use It,” lets individuals know what to do if they experience housing discrimination. It was launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Fair Housing Alliance.
The act became law in 1968, following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and made it illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, familial status or disability.
Additional protections were added in 1988 that became effective in 1989.
The New York State Division of Human Rights enforces the state Human Rights Law.
The law’s fair housing provisions prohibit housing and lending discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation and military status.
The city’s Commission on Human Rights enforces the local Human Rights Law, which also prohibits housing discrimination.
Further information is available at nhsj.org or by calling 291-7400.
In official business, the board passed a resolution regarding the renaming of streets, parks or portions thereof, schools, libraries and other public structures.
Since the person, group or name may not be known to the members of the community board and since the board has no existing protocol to establish the worthiness of such name changes, the board determined that any application for a name change should meet certain criteria.
These include recognizing only individuals who have made a significant community contribution.
A person must have been in the community for a minimum of 10 years.
New York City police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty would be eligible for the honor.
A request from a particular block must be made in writing by at least 55 percent of the residents of the block in question, and a request from the community is subject to a petition containing 100 to 150 signatures.
Final approval will be subject to review by the full board.
In other business, the board voted unanimously to back the Land Use Committee’s support of a gas station located at 244-40 Francis Lewis Blvd. in Rosedale, which was seeking a variance for a 10-year period, beginning retroactively to 2010.
Committee’s chairman Richard Hellenbrecht said the variance is required of all gas stations located in residential areas.
Conditions of approval include the removal of clothing bins currently located in a handicapped parking area; removal or relocation of self-service car-washing machines in an area that should be reserved for four parking places for the station’s convenience store customers; and the tidying up of a buffer zone separating the station from residences.