Since September 2, workers from the Association of Community Employment (ACE) Programs for the Homeless have been cleaning major thoroughfares in the district, including Flushing Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, Fresh Pond Road and Myrtle Avenue.
Councilman Robert Holden allocated $57,000 in the budget for ACE to clean up litter and overflowing waste baskets, clear snow from catch basins, and conduct occasional graffiti removal. Along with Wildcat Service Corp., ACE will provide cleaning services to the district seven days a week.
“I hope it’s going to be a long partnership, whether I’m in office or not,” said Holden, who made the announcement at Myrtle Avenue and Fresh Pond Road last Wednesday morning. “I hope this area will give these gentlemen the opportunity to make a living and give back to the city.”
ACE, which is now providing sanitation services in 25 districts across the city, offers employment to New Yorkers who have overcome barriers like homelessness, addiction and incarceration.
“This allocation is not only going to help provide and maintain the beautiful streets here in this district, but it’s also helping create jobs and opportunities for New Yorkers who need it,” said ACE executive director James Martin. “We’re looking forward to moving forward and making the councilman and his constituents proud.”
In addition to funding for ACE, Holden has also allocated money in his discretionary budget for the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to bring back Sunday wastebasket collection in his district.
The councilman noted that a number of volunteer efforts by neighbors are underway to sweep and take care of the streets. DSNY has provided the tools for volunteers to clean up the district, which Holden said has seen a lot more litter due to recent budget cuts.
“We’re going to continue the efforts throughout the fall and into the winter,” he said.
Holden said he hopes DSNY and his office can start a new campaign to get people to stop littering. The campaign could include signs on storefront windows reminding residents and customers to responsibly dispose of their trash.
“We have plenty of baskets,” he said. “We just need people to use them.”
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a trio of new initiatives to boost the city’s sanitation efforts along streets and in parks. The first action is reallocating a portion of DSNY’s budget to restore about 65 litter basket trucks weekly across the city.
The trucks will focus on 27 neighborhoods that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including Corona, Jamaica and the Rockaways in Queens, and Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
Secondly, the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will work with The Doe Fund to provide supplemental cleaning services in neighborhoods and parks through the end of the year.
Finally, the mayor said the city will partner with community-based organizations, elected officials and the private sector to sponsor community cleanups.
“New Yorkers deserve clean, safe communities,” de Blasio said in a statement, “and with this announcement today we are continuing to deliver on that promise.”
Holden, however, said the mayor’s new initiatives are only a “drop in the bucket.” He said he doesn’t think it will make a difference in his district.
“I’m not going to take that to the bank or say things are solved,” he said. “It doesn’t look like that much money for sanitation.”