QNU is organizing local opposition to the development, which they say will further displace residents and small businesses.
But this isn’t their first battle in the neighborhood. According to member Tania Mattos, QNU formed in 2014 to oppose the expanded Business Improvement District (BID) in Jackson Heights.
“We saw this very specific policy that perpetuated and accelerated gentrification,” Mattos said. “By we, I mean community members, small business owners, activists and vendors.”
The organization also runs a campaign against police abuse against street vendors, small business owners and young people in the community, Mattos said.
Specifically for vendors, Mattos said they’ve fought against harassment by both the NYPD and sanitation worker.
“[We’ve been] going to captains of each police precinct and talking about why street vendors should not be displaced, arrested or harassed,” she said. “That is a very big concern of ours.”
When 82nd Street development proposal first came up, QNU members saw it as another step in the gentrification of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona. Along with 120 units of housing, a Target is slated to open on the site, which they fear will displace small business owners.
Members say they’ve already seen chain retailers like Gap and Banana Republic pop up near Roosevelt Avenue and 82nd Street.
QNU also focuses on protecting immigrants. Members say gentrification, policing and immigration are all tied together for residents and businesses in the community.
“That’s been very important for us, highlighting the issue of policing in our community and the amount of summonses given out in our community, which is skyrocketing,” Mattos said.