In a neighborhood where 47 percent of residents are unemployed or underemployed, economic stimulation is vital.
The Doorways To Opportunity partnership is a $1.4 million investment provided by Citi Community Development to Urban Upbound, a group that provides services to public housing residents.
As a part of the program, residents of public housing in Astoria will be offered services that provide a means to break the cycle of poverty, according to Bishop Mitchell Taylor, CEO and founder of Urban Upbound.
They include job placement, tax preparation, financial counseling, work force development, technology tools development, and entrepreneurial training.
Michael Kelly, a general Manager with NYCHA, said the program aims to help over 400,000 public housing residents connect to resources that provide economic success through engagement.
“How do we empower residents? Through cash,” Kelly said. “I think it’s really great that the program is called Doorways To Opportunity, because everyone despite where they live or how much they make deserve to walk through these great doorways.”
Kelly predicts the program will serve as a model not only citywide, but countrywide.
Lavera Martino has been a public housing resident in Astoria intermittently for 18 years. A temporary position working for Urban Upbound left her searching for a career that will provide financial stability and self-reliance in the future.
Martino attended training sessions for OnPoint Security NYC, a cooperative-based business that gives employees the opportunity to own part of the company
“One thing I have always wanted to do is be an entrepreneur and have a good life,” Martino said. “It will definitely make me more stable as far as wages. Just the opportunity to own something gives you confidence.”
Claudia Coger, a community leader in Astoria Houses, said the next cooperative-based business being planned is a community supermarket.
“I am not a dreamer, but I am a believer,” she said. “I hope to see that the cooperatives will be owned by the residents and be invested in the community.”