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UJA-Federation of New York and Commonpoint Queens Bring New Hope to Tens of Thousands of Struggling New Yorkers

uja hub virtual ribbon cutting

UJA-Federation of New York, in partnership with Commonpoint Queens, and joined virtually by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, U.S. Representative Grace Meng, and a number of New York City and State elected officials, today opened the Queens Hub, a new 9,600-square-foot social service center that will offer employment resources, social services, and access to food in Elmhurst, Queens. UJA has invested nearly $10 million to build the Hub and committed an additional $1.4M per year for a total of five years in operating costs. The remainder of funding will be sourced from public grants. Commonpoint Queens manages Hub programming, and staff includes nearly 40 professionals from Commonpoint and other UJA partners.

“The opening of the Queens Hub is the realization of a years-long initiative at the core of UJA’s mission — to do all we can to help those in poverty. And with the current pandemic, there’s never been a more pressing need in our lifetimes for this kind of support,” said Eric S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York. “Now, thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers can visit the Hub and receive comprehensive services in one place dramatically benefitting themselves and their families.”

Open to all New Yorkers starting October 7, 2020, the Hub is expected to serve 6,000 clients in its first year. An all-encompassing facility that provides a range of social services to help people stabilize their lives, the centerpiece of the Hub is a best-in-class workforce development program, where potential employers will participate in trainings, increasing the likelihood of participants finding employment. The Hub also offers case management, mental health counseling, benefits screening and enrollment, emergency cash assistance, and access to the Commonpoint Queens Digital Food pantry.

Hub classrooms and computer labs will open with a combination of virtual and in-person classes for jobs in high-growth industries including allied health, information technology and solar technology. Culinary arts skills and certifications will be taught in a state of the art on-site training kitchen. In addition, clients can also enroll in fundamental high school equivalency classes and English as a Second Language (ESL). Emphasis will be placed on the skills required to obtain a job, including resume writing and interview preparation.

The New York Legal Assistance Group and Hebrew Free Loan Society, two of UJA’s non-profit partners, will provide Hub clients with legal services and financial counseling, and access to interest-free loans. Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is UJA’s partner in the Digital Food Pantry system.

“A trusted, one stop social service center in Elmhurst will be a vital lifeline for so many New Yorkers looking to rebuild their lives and provide for their families during this difficult time. I want to thank UJA and Commonpoint Queens for their fearless leadership, and I look forward to supporting this important effort,” said U.S. Senator Kristin Gillibrand.

“Communities of color, immigrants, seniors, and low-income families across Queens are disproportionately bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis facing our city. I applaud UJA and Commonpoint Queens for launching the Queens Hub, which will undoubtedly serve as an essential resource for Elmhurst’s most vulnerable residents. The Queens Hub will play a key part in the work to uplift New Yorkers and ensure everyone regardless of socioeconomic status has access to financial, legal, and employment services in their time of need,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

“I thank UJA-Federation and Commonpoint Queens for the launch of Queens Hub which will be an invaluable social services center in Elmhurst. This critical node will be a tremendous resource for all who visit. From job resources to financial and legal counseling, these resources will ensure people can answer their questions across an array of issues. I wish Queens Hub success and look forward to it becoming an anchor in our community,” said U.S. Representative Grace Meng.

Despite recent improvements, more than one million New Yorkers are out of work and New York City’s unemployment rate remains at 16%, nearly double the national average. Hospitality, retail, and the arts continue to be among the hardest hit industries, with major employers having to close altogether and those who have managed to maintain operations continuously forced to lay off staff and reduce hours.

“It is all of our responsibilities to ensure that no one be kept from their dreams — a job paying a living wage, graduating from high school or providing food for their family,” said Danielle Ellman, CEO of Commonpoint Queens. “The pandemic has been devastating for our community in so many ways, the opening of The Hub will help thousands of people move from crisis back to stability.”

The opening ceremony included remarks from U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, U.S. Representative Grace Meng, New York State Senator Toby Stavisky, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, New York City Council Members Barry Grodenchik and Peter Koo, UJA-Federation of New York CEO Eric S. Goldstein, UJA-Federation of New York President Amy Bressman, and Commonpoint Queens CEO Danielle Ellman.

Also, in response to Covid-19 and the overwhelming demand for social services, UJA allocated $4.6 million for six satellite Hub locations that will open their doors in November across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, and Westchester. While the Queens Hub will be permanent to respond to perennial poverty, the satellite Hubs will serve as a shorter-term COVID recovery response. UJA is also working towards building a permanent Brooklyn Hub.

Donors to the Queens Hub include: Harriet & Robert H. Heilbrunn Fund, Jewish Communal Fund, Jeffrey Schoenfeld, Anonymous, Susan & Richard A. Friedman, Helaine Heilbrunn Lerner, Hon. Melinda Katz, Queens Borough President, Ray & Matthew Lindenbaum, Altman Foundation, Marilyn & Lawrence Gottlieb, Linda Riefberg & Lee Perlman, Jodi J. Schwartz & Steven F. Richman, The Jeffrey H. and Shari L. Aronson Family Foundation, Nancy & Jeffrey Halis, Carol and Roger Einiger, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Shirley and William Fleischer Family Foundation Inc., Maxwell Schneider Joseph. Digital Food Pantry donors include: Phyllis Backer Foundation, Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, Himan Brown Charitable Trust, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.

For more information about the Queens Hub, visit www.commonpointqueens.org or call 718-268-5057.


More About Commonpoint Queens

Commonpoint Queens is a social services organization that meets the diverse and evolving needs in the borough of Queens —a place where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to find support, access opportunities, and build connections to the community throughout their lives. To learn more, go to www.commonpointqueens.org.

More About UJA-Federation of New York

Working with a network of hundreds of nonprofits, UJA extends its reach from New York to Israel to nearly 70 other countries around the world, touching the lives of 4.5 million people each year. To date, UJA has allocated more than $52 million to help respond to the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Aid has supported New Yorkers facing food insecurity, UJA partner organizations providing essential health and human services to New Yorkers, Jewish Community Centers, low-income students, single parents, and ensuring dignified Jewish burials. For more information, please visit www.ujafedny.org.