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Know Your Rights
Source: Crain's New York Business
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

Immigrant advocacy group to expand health programs through $29M project

Make the Road New York plans to more than double its space for programs and services through the construction of a $28.6 million community center in Corona, Queens.

The project includes an expansion of the immigrant advocacy group’s health navigators program for insurance enrollment, peer-to-peer health counseling and community health advocacy program.

“For us, this space meets a very practical need, and a concrete desire to increasingly meet the need that we’re seeing, but it also is a message in these times that immigrant communities are here to stay,” said Theo Oshiro, deputy director of Make the Road New York.

The new 24,000-square-foot community center is slated to be finished next year. Upon completion, Make the Road New York plans to move from an existing location in Jackson Heights to the new center at 104-19 Roosevelt Ave., across the street from Corona Plaza.

The organization currently provides a range of legal and health services to about 10,000 individuals from its Jackson Heights location. “We expect that those numbers will definitely increase once we’re in the new space, particularly on the ‘know your rights’ educational sessions we provide on both the health and legal side,” Oshiro said.

In terms of health services, the focus is on access to care, he said. That includes helping people navigate the health care system whether they have insurance or not, enrolling people directly in insurance programs and dealing with language access rights in the state’s hospitals and pharmacies.

Services also include nutrition programming and training for community health workers to serve as liaisons between providers and community members when it comes to adherence to plans for asthma and other chronic conditions, Oshiro said.

The organization additionally sees an opportunity for expanding partnerships on HIV testing and other issues through its Queens expansion.

The goal, Oshiro said, is improving health outcomes for people who often have had a poor track record for a number of reasons.

The project is being financed through government and philanthropic dollars, loans and New Markets Tax Credits, the Manhattan-based Nonprofit Finance Fund said. The community-development financial institution is contributing $5 million in loans plus a $10 million NMTC allocation.

“NFF is proud to support the growth of MRNY’s indispensable services for immigrants,” Norah McVeigh, NFF’s managing director of financing, said in a statement. “Its new building will bring greater services for people in need as well as important economic development and jobs.”