Tag Archives: Ravenswood Houses

BP secures $250K for new pre-K program at Queens Library in Ravenswood Houses

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of BP Melinda Katz's office

More than 30 seats are being added to School District 30, as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz secured funding for a new pre-K program at a Queens Library branch at one Astoria housing development.

Katz announced Tuesday she will be allocating discretionary capital funding to create a new, free, full-day pre-K program at the Ravenswood library located within the NYCHA Ravenswood Houses at 35-32 21st St.

This new program will add 36 seats to District 30, which is known for being overcrowded and having one of the largest pre-K seat shortages in the borough for the upcoming school year. The Ravenswood site was approved last year by the Department of Buildings to operate a pre-K program.

“Addressing the pre-K seat shortage for the upcoming school year has been a priority, especially in Districts 30 and 24,” Katz said. “The Queens Library has taken one of the more creative initiatives we’ve seen to launch pre-K programs at our beloved libraries throughout the borough. Our libraries are treasured, safe community hubs for enrichment and lifelong learning, and starting the educational pathway from pre-K here is a natural fit.”

The cost to modify the Ravenswood library into the new pre-K program is estimated at $572,000, according to the Department of Design and Construction. An initial $250,000 was committed by the Shoolman Foundation, as well as $72,000 from the Department of Education.

Katz will be securing the remaining $250,000 allowing the program to become a reality.

“This funding is great news for the Ravenswood community and for the children of western Queens,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris. “We know that pre-K makes a huge difference in the lives of our young students and I am glad that we are adding space in an area that so desperately needs more school seats.”

The Ravenswood library’s entire space will be used to run the pre-K program from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays. During non-school hours, the library will be used as a Family Literacy Learning Center, offering ESL courses and other classes for adults.

“The Ravenswood library is a prime location to house and expand our city’s already successful universal pre-kindergarten program,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “With the addition of two UPK classes we can provide more children a head start in getting the education they rightfully deserve.”


91-year-old WWII veteran fighting NYCHA for Flushing apartment

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre


Ninety-one-year-old Ralph Calinda has fought his fair share of battles over his lifetime.

He fought for the United States during World War II, he battles diabetes and high blood pressure every day, and now he’s facing a different conflict — keeping the apartment he has called home for more than 60 years.

Calinda lives alone in a three-bedroom apartment in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Pomonok Houses in Flushing. Through NYCHA’s downsizing policy, which moves residents who “overuse apartments” to smaller ones, the city agency wants to kick him out of his home.

They have sent letters to force him to take one-bedroom apartments, but in foreign neighborhoods such as the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City and the Ravenswood Houses in Astoria. Finally, they asked him to move to an apartment in the Pomonok Houses, but it lacked essential appliances and was unfurnished. Calinda, who retired nearly three decades ago, believes he wouldn’t even be able to make the move physically or financially, since he depends on social security payments.

Councilman Rory Lancman and other politicians rallied with Calinda and his family against the NYCHA policy in a protest on Friday, to call on the agency to halt its downsizing of senior residents and to overhaul the initiative.

“They have lately stepped up in a very, very aggressive way,” Lancman said about NYCHA. “We are here today to demand that they stop and that they treat their long-time residents like valuable citizens of the communities that they’ve lived in, rather than as pieces of furniture they can move around from one place to the other.”

Calinda uses a cane to walk, and that’s only during the rare times he leaves his apartment. “Pop,” as he is known among family members, friends and neighbors, now enjoys painting, word puzzles and gardening.

But before he retired, Calinda used to build fighter jets for the Air Force. He even helped build the NASA space shuttles, and although Calinda wouldn’t say which one, he allegedly engraved the name of his late wife on the tail of one of the space rockets.

Calinda raised seven children from his apartment, which has six rooms, counting a living room, kitchen and a bathroom. He said he may have been willing to leave if NYCHA first came to him when his kids became adults and left 30 years ago, but not now.

“It’s been my home for so long, I just think it should be my home forever,” he said.

NYCHA has yet to return a request for comment.




25 people shot in one weekend across city

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic image

A hot weekend in the city was also a violent one.

In less than 48 hours 25 people were reportedly shot, six of which died.

Gun violence occurred in all of the city’s boroughs except for Staten Island, with four shootings in Queens, according to the Daily News.

A 21-year-old man was struck in the leg at 12:10 a.m. Sunday at the Ravenswood Houses in Astoria, reported the Daily News. The same day a 35-year-old man came to Jamaica Hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg.

This weekend’s gun violence is 5 percent of this year’s approximately 440 shootings, according to ABC New York, but is a 23 percent decline from the 574 shot through this time last year.



51 charged in drug sweep at Queens housing developments

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


An undercover drug investigation at two western Queens housing developments has led to the indictment of 28 men and women for selling narcotics, and the arrest of 23 others, announced District Attorney Richard Brown and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Authorities have 15 of the indicted individuals in custody and are still seeking 13 more.

Ranging in age from 18 to 57, the defendants are accused of peddling heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, methamphetamine and marijuana to undercover cops on hundreds of separate occasions over an eight-month period between 2012 and 2013 in and around the New York City Housing Authority’s Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City and the Ravenswood Houses in Astoria, said the district attorney’s office.

“These arrests are just the latest results of a coordinated law enforcement and prosecutorial anti-drug initiative that began soon after I took office more than twenty years ago. Since that time, we have targeted hundreds of drug dealers in public housing developments throughout Queens and in private housing developments like Lefrak City and have put a significant dent in the drug trafficking which has long troubled the residents of these developments. We will continue to work together with our police officers and our elected officials and community leaders to keep our citizens safe,” said Brown.




Suspect allegedly pushes cop down stairs at Astoria housing complex

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A housing officer broke her leg when she was allegedly pushed down the stairs while chasing a domestic violence suspect at the Ravenswood Houses in Astoria, according to published reports.

The unidentified female cop and her partner were following up on an abuse report around 5 p.m. Friday.

They tried to arrest the man involved in the domestic violence incident, 20-year-old Jose Pages, but he allegedly fled.

During the chase, they ended up in a stairwell where the suspect and officers began to struggle, and the woman was knocked down the stairs.

The officer was taken to the hospital with a broken leg.

Authorities took Pages into custody at the scene.

But friends and family are telling local media that Pages didn’t intentionally push the officer down the stairs.

“Jose didn’t throw the cop down the stairs,” Pages’ stepfather Jose Olivo told the New York Daily News. “Maybe she tried to grab him and the cop fell back. He’s a good kid, not a bad kid.”