Meet Your Neighbor: Blanca Izaguirre

In 1975, my family of four could not afford a two-bedroom apartment on our income, so we were so excited when we received a letter stating that we were eligible to live in the Forest Hills Coop.

We were well aware of the controversy associated with the housing complex, as stories about the conflict were in the papers every day. And while we were apprehensive about moving, our need for housing was far greater than any concerns we had. On move-in day, we were met by protestors shouting “WE DO NOT WANT YOU!” Some threw eggs and tomatoes at us. It was a scary experience, but as soon as we stepped into our apartment, we were just relieved to have a decent place to stay.

I remember Forest Hills Community House (now Queens Community House) explaining to us their plan to integrate the new tenants into the existing community. When the new Community Center first opened its doors, the neighborhood quickly took notice. It didn’t take long to see seniors from the coop and the broader neighborhood eating together, as well as teenagers from both “sides” playing basketball on the same court.

The Forest Hills Community Center instantly became a fixture of the neighborhood. The center brought everyone together and started to address the pressing needs of the entire community.

Eventually, my children attended the after-school program there, and soon after, I was asked to join the Board of Directors. I agreed without hesitation. I was happy to give back to an organization that had turned the neighborhood into a true community.

- Blanca Izaguirre, Member of QCH's Board of Directors

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