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Queens Chronicle

Van Bramer expands Doe Fund to LIC area

Councilman doubles allocation for cleaner, safer streets in neighborhood

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Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:53 am, Thu Aug 7, 2014.

After years of walking past garbage and dirt-stained thoroughfares, Long Island City residents can expect cleaner streets.

In an announcement made on Tuesday, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) revealed he has allocated $135,000 to the Doe Fund to clean up the streets of Long Island City.

“For too long, we knew this area had to be cleaned and that we had to get city agencies to focus on it,” Van Bramer said. “Now that I am doubling the funding to clean the streets of my district, these streets will no longer go unnoticed.”

The announcement was made underneath the Pulaski Bridge, which connects Queens to Brooklyn. The underpass is often used by residents to access the No. 7 train and Vernon Boulevard.

The area was notorious for being ridden with trash and pigeon feces.

“My son and I would walk here regularly and since he’s young, he likes to point things out and whenever we walked underneath the bridge, he would say ‘Mommy, mess!’” Tamar Wienstock, a Long Island City resident, said. “Today, we walked through and there was no mess, thanks to the Doe Fund.”

The Doe Fund is a program that hires formerly incarcerated individuals to do regular trash pickup, power washing and maintenance of city streets.

Participants are paid above the minimum wage and eventually are placed in jobs in the private sector.

Van Bramer’s funding will pay for the Doe Fund’s services on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and will cover Jackson Avenue from Vernon Boulevard to 45th Avenue, 11th Street to 45th Drive and side streets between Vernon Boulevard and 5th Street.

In addition, Dutch Kills will be included in the program in the near future.

“We can improve upon what are already some of the greatest neighborhoods in all of New York City,” Van Bramer said. “But also we get to work with the Doe Fund, which provides men and women with the opportunity to work and support their families.”

The program’s founder, George McDonald, was thrilled with the expansion as well.

“The people who need help the most in society and the taxpayers of the community come together and create something better for the citizens and the City of New York,” he said.

Several business owners with active roles within the Long Island City community gushed over the work the Doe Fund has done already.

“This is the first time I have been on this block that it didn’t smell,” said Gianna Cerbone, owner of Manducatis Rustica on Vernon Boulevard. “But I could really see the difference when we had our last rainstorm and for the first time, our sewer system didn’t back up on Vernon Boulevard. It helps on so many levels.”

“We want every single block in Long Island City to be clean and safe for everyone,” Van Bramer said.

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