New state report details expansive growth of Jamaica
by Patrick Kearns
Sep 27, 2016 | 3968 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli presents York College with a check for nearly $7,000 due to unclaimed state funds. He urged residents of Jamaica to look on his office's website to see if they also are due unclaimed funds.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli presents York College with a check for nearly $7,000 due to unclaimed state funds. He urged residents of Jamaica to look on his office's website to see if they also are due unclaimed funds.
slideshow
Borough President Melinda Katz discusses the future of development in Jamaica.
Borough President Melinda Katz discusses the future of development in Jamaica.
slideshow
The population and economy of Jamaica are growing rapidly, according to a new report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, but some elected officials still have concerns over common issues plaguing the southeast Queens nabe.

DiNapoli stopped by the Central Library on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica last week to showcase highlights of the new report, which included an increase in the number of businesses and a rise in household incomes to accompany the booming population.

“Our goal is to not just use that data and analyze it for our purposes,” said DiNapoli. “We want to help the local elected leadership, the community leaders, and the people who reside in the communities have a sense about what's happening in their neighborhood.”

According to the report, the population for Jamaica has grown 35 percent between 1980 and 2014, which outpaces the city's overall 20 percent growth. Much of that growth was driven by the immigrant population more than tripling and now making up 41 percent of the overall population.

There's been a significant growth in the number of businesses, as well. While the city growth over a 20-year period is a robust 27 percent, in Jamaica there's been a 39 percent increase.

Meanwhile, the median household income increased by 11 percent in 2015, which is twice as fast as the city overall. The median household income, now at $58,315, even surpassed the overall city median income at $55,752.

“As incomes rise in Jamaica, the number of households living below the federal poverty level declined from 17.6 percent in 2010 to 13.1 percent in 2015,” said DiNapoli. “And that's a much lower rate than the citywide rate.”

DiNapoli highlighted several new projects that will create jobs opportunities and increase the number of affordable housing units. Downtown Jamaica, for example, just won a $10 million revitalization grant from the state.

In 2015, Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio released the JamaicaNow plan, which represents $153 million in public funding for 25 different initiatives.

“It's very very clear that our report shows that Jamaica is coming back in a very, very strong way,” DiNapoli said.

Despite the celebratory tone of the report, the community still faces some serious problems.

“We still suffer from high amounts of predatory lending,” said State Senator Leroy Comrie. “That's something that we have to work hard on.”

In fact, the report finds that more than half of the mortgages issued in Jamaica in 2006 were subprime, and between 2008 and 2010, Jamaica has more foreclosures than anywhere else in New York City.

In 2015, according to the NYU Furman Center, Jamaica still has the highest number of pre-foreclosures per 1,000 homes in New York City.

Councilman Daneek Miller explained that the residents of Jamaica also face troubles because of the loss of healthcare options with the closures of Mary Immaculate and Holliswood hospitals. Miller also highlighted the long and expensive commutes that many of his constituents face.

“While we have a great transportation hub, nearly 100,000 residents of Jamaica travel nearly an hour and a half one way into the city every day,” he said. “While we have six Long Island Rail Road stations in our district, they are cost-prohibitive to the residents of southeast Queens.”

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