Empowered Queens United in Action & Leadership (EQUAL)- Press Profile

2010 Union Square Award Recipient

First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica
89-60 164th Street
Queens, NY 11432

Media Contact: Rev. Patrick O’Connor, President
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | (718) 526-6305

Empowered Queens United in Action and Leadership (EQUAL) is dedicated to building citizen power for immigrants and working families, enabling them to shape public policies that impact low-to-middle-income neighborhoods in Queens. The borough has 2.2 million people, 46% foreign-born, the highest of any United States county. EQUAL is comprised of 11 congregations with a constituency of 3,500 residents. It is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) through which it receives professional leadership and organization skills development.

EQUAL believes that the deep anxiety in the country over conditions and direction has opened more opportunities for local residents to participate in major issues – housing, education, economy, public safety and the environment. It engages local residents to determine their most concerning socio-economic problems through “listening campaigns,” a systematic process that requires organizers to listen and involve participants in analysis that develops and builds local leadership. Once participants identify the issues, the group asks, “Who is willing to do the work to make the change needed?” In this way, campaigns are led by those who care about the issues.

Current activities include the “10% is Enough” campaign that believes America’s biggest banks are undermining the economy by promoting debt through higher fees and charges. As part of IAF’s national campaign against usury, EQUAL is seeking to reduce current rates to affordable levels with a two-prong effort urging state officials to withdraw billions in public funds out of banks that charge usurious rates and by educating the general public about how financial systems function.

EQUAL has also organized leadership teams in Rochdale Village, a 20-building housing cooperative, to address concerns with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.  In 2007, the complex topped all of Queens with 450 foreclosure filings, board corruption, and a 30% increase in charges.

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