The New York Immigration Coalition is hosting a holiday-themed resource fair in Sunset Park for immigrants and low-income families in need on Dec. 7.
From 5:30-8:30 p.m. at P.S. 24 at 427 38th St., the group will provide hot meals, a legal clinic with the New York Legal Assistance Group, resources from neighboring aid organizations, warm winter wear — coats, shoes, thermals, winter shoes and sweaters — and hygiene necessities including shampoo and conditioner, soap, diapers, baby wipes and menstrual products through Key to the City, an NYIC initiative prioritizing marginalized groups the relevant services they need to thrive.
According to Nora Melendez director of community programming with Key to the City, programs like this don’t happen without actively canvassing and speaking with residents to access what services would benefit them best.
“The needs of Sunset Park are very different from Wakefield in the Bronx,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re responsive to what the neighborhood themselves are looking for and I think the best way to do that is engaging the community directly and the partners working within those neighborhoods.”
NYIC works with what they call “trusted spaces” like schools and libraries to connect residents to the resources and services they need free of charge.
“We found that this partnership with different trusted community spaces really allow us to meet the community where they’re at and build that trust within the services themselves,” Melendez said. “We are keeping our ears to the ground and kind of hearing what the needs are and what things are happening.”
Beyond hot meals and holiday supplies, the team also tries to help families by offering legal support. They plan to host roughly 30 legal consultations with experienced immigration attorneys across various fields from naturalization, DACA, and public benefits to open immigration cases and legal representation needs.
“The attorney meets with the clients, goes through all of the different information, the client case history and from there [they] are able to best navigate where the clients would like the support,” Melendez told Brooklyn Paper.
According to data compiled by the NYU Furman Center, 40.7% of Sunset Park residents are foreign born. The area has an estimated population of 134,945 with a large Asian and Hispanic majority. Nearly 23% of the nabe reportedly lives in poverty.
Key to the City is funded by the New York City Council and has been helping neighborhoods across the city for 18 years. Family resource fairs were also sponsored by the Department of Youth and Community Development and Council Member Alexa Avilés who represents Sunset Park.
“It always brings around really great energy and it really allows us to show up for them, “she said. “Key to the City really is a community space that allows us to meet community members where they’re at and provide them with relevant services that allow them to thrive in their everyday lives.”