U.S. Rep. and Queens County Democratic Party Chair Gregory W.  Meeks (D- Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) recently hosted a “Millennial Mixer” at the Pa-Nash restaurant in Rosedale.

    Queens native and community activist James Johnson organized the event to facilitate an open dialogue with Southeast Queens millennials living in Meeks 5th Congressional District.

    U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, left with James Johnson. Contributed photo.

    “Unlike preceding generations, there’s often a misconception regarding millennials not being engaged or interested in political or government initiatives. That perception is false; millennials are voicing their concerns on a plethora of issues in today’s political discourse now more than ever! I want that to be known by continuously creating a platform to showcase the uniqueness of diverse perspectives and the voices of millennials in our community,” said Johnson.

    That evening, there was an impressive turnout – nearly 200 millennials, from diverse backgrounds with varying interests, who attended the event. All of whom were eager to network with their peers and discuss the pressing issues facing their communities and nation. The discussion encompassed a variety of topics. Of them being housing opportunities in Southeast Queens.

    “Till this day, redlining is one of the root causes of the foreclosure trend plaguing our neighborhoods. One of my priorities in the district is to help homeowners keep their homes. Additionally, I want to ensure that more people, especially our millennials, have the opportunity to own their own home here in Southeast Queens. Thus, I have invited Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) the nation’s leading non-profit, community advocacy organization, to increase homeownership in Southeast Queens. Programs like NACA are essential in building minority communities and removing the barriers to homeownership” said Meeks.

    U.S. Rep. Greg Meeks greets people at the event. Contributed photo.

    NACA will be in Southeast Queens for a five day “Achieve the Dream” event, running from June 27 – Jul 1 at the Resorts World Casino, 110-00 Rockaway Blvd in Jamaica.

    After housing, the discussion moved to a pertinent issue facing the millennial generation – student loans. In recent studies, there has been a proven link between decreasing homeownership among millennials and high student loan debt.

    “It’s no secret that the rising cost of student debt is a growing national crisis that is burdening our nation’s young adults. In order for young people to participate in the homeownership arena, significant student loan reform will need to take place. Americans now owe more than $1.53 trillion in student loan debt, with the average student loan debt amount of $37,000. I firmly believe that we as a nation, from the oval office to the halls of Congress, must do more to address this issue facing our young Americans,” said Meeks.

     Next, the Congressman informed the event attendees about current projects and initiatives taking place in his district.

    “Another priority of mine as a representative is to ensure more job opportunities are available in the Fifth Congressional District. For example, there is currently a historic $13 billion vision plan to transform JFK airport. Under this project, thousands of jobs will be coming to the district. My duty is to ensure my constituents, including millennials, have access to these jobs. Earlier this year, we cut the ribbon to open the JFK Redevelopment’s Community Outreach Center, which serves as a resource for information about employment opportunities. I encourage you to visit the office located at 144-33 Jamaica Ave to learn more about the ways our community can benefit from this massive project,” said Meeks.

    In closing, Meeks assured the crowd that he is committed to working directly with millennials in his district and across the borough.

    “Now more than ever, it is important that we invest in our younger generations. They are instrumental in our resistance to the Trump administration and its harmful policies. I urge our millennials and youth to stay involved and continue to organize in their communities. They are truly making a difference. Finally, I want to continue to hear from more millennials because they need to be brought closer to the political process. Therefore, I will be holding a series of forums to meet with millennials across the borough of Queens. We must empower our millennial generation because they are the future,” said Meeks.

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