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Feds award grant $$$ to Jacob Riis center

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U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced $75,000 in federal grants Saturday to the Queensbridge Housing Tenant Association and the Jacob Riis Community Center after a ceremony at the complex.

A $50,000 Community Development Technical Assistance grant for the community center at 10-25 41st Ave. will give at-risk youth technology and business training, while a $25,000 Drug Elimination grant will provide for drug prevention, education and counseling programs.

Crowley and Cuomo also provided a donation of 13 computers and three printers to the center along with the grants.

Cuomo told the small crowd assembled in the lobby of the center Saturday afternoon the goal of public housing was to provide people with job skills in a drug-free environment.

"Queensbridge is a beautiful example of how good a community can be," he said. "This is one example of public housing that works well. Public housing is really about an opportunity to help people improve themselves."

Nina Adams, the president of the Queensbridge Housing Tenant Association, said the monies would be used to hire a consultant to develop drug elimination programs, and to support activities for the center like trips, conflict resolution, and a basketball tournament.

Crowley said "public housing works, but it needs the necessary tools to accomplish the job. Tools such as computers, job training and placement, a sense of community and anti-crime initiatives need to be in the equation."

Bill Newlin, executive director of the center, said the computer equipment would be a welcome addition to Jacob Riis' existing technology lab.

"We're always about closing that digital divide," he said.

The $50,000 would also support a technology and business training program for at-risk youth which the Jacob Riis Center runs with LaGuardia Community College.

Cuomo said the grants "will help bolster existing efforts by the tenant association to revitalize Queens communities by providing work experience to our young people as well as giving them new opportunities to avoid drug use and grow up in a safe and healthy environment."

The Queensbridge Housing Development, which has 3,100 units, is the largest, single housing development in the country.

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