In what could be interpreted as a sign of its success over the last 18 years, the Chhaya Community Development Corporation, popularly known as Chhaya by many in the South Asian community in Queens, is expanding its presence in the area.
The organization announced Jan. 15, that it is opening a new Richmond Hill Center to expand access to housing and financial services to what i considers an ‘underserved” neighborhood. The office is located on Liberty Avenue in Jamaica, Queens and will be opened Jan. 29 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Chhaya has “unequivocally” opposed the building of an Amazon headquarters in the city on grounds it would negatively impact low and middle-income residents in the borough of Queens. “Three billion in taxpayer dollars were committed to the land use of our city, ignoring the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). In doing so, the government denied the voice of the community and the 14 Community Boards which represent Queens residents,” it says in a press release after the deal with Amazon became public last year. “In a city that is enduring an ongoing affordable housing crisis, this move has already spurred predatory speculation and laid the foundation for further gentrification and displacement in our communities,” Chhaya claims.
It’s new office in Richmond Hill is the first major expansion for the non-profit after serving thousands of low and middle income members of the community from its Jackson Heights office, a press release from the organization, said.
High profile speakers who will speak at the event include Council Member Adrienne E. Adams who represents District 28, along with the Chhaya CDC Executive Director Annetta Seecharran, and the organization’s Lead Community Organizer Jagpreet Singh. Chhaya will be expanding its critical services to the historically underserved neighborhood of Richmond Hill, including free tax preparation and filing services..
As an official NYC Department of Consumer Affairs #FreeTaxPrep site, Chhay will provide IRS-certified VITA/TCE preparers to help those needing to complete their tax returns, and learn about tax credits. The Richmond Hill Center will also offer foreclosure prevention counseling, basement apartment advocacy work, and other civic engagement opportunities, the press release said..
Founded in 2000 to help with housing for the poor, Chhaya has focused on anti-poverty activities, and expanded the types of issues it handles.
“Chhaya is committed to breaking down the barriers to the economic, social, and political advancement of low income South Asians,” the organization says. “Chhaya has helped prevent hundreds of foreclosures; assisted first-time homebuyers in obtaining thousands of dollars in down-payment assistance; played a critical role in the ongoing effort to legalize basement apartments to expand the pool of safe and affordable housing; provided individuals with key immigration services to better navigate daily life; empowered families with financial management tools and skills, and fostered the civic engagement of thousands of South Asian New Yorkers.