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Queens blacks have moved South: Study

A new study conducted by Queens College indicates that blacks are leaving Queens for the South in huge numbers, but the sociologist who conducted the analysis and City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) contend the trend has less to do with the foreclosure crisis that is crippling neighborhoods and more with changing demographics.

More than 56,000 black residents moved out of the borough between 2006 and 2009,the study showed. The most popular destination for these borough members is the South, with more than 28,000 having settled there during that four-year time period, according to the data.

Andrew Beveridge, a Queens College sociology professor who spearheaded the study, said he was not surprised with the trend because New York City has become difficult to live in over the last couple of years.

“New York is too expensive for a middle-class person. It’s been going on for 20 years,” he said.

Although southeast Queens neighborhoods such as Jamaica, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens lead the state in the number of foreclosures, Beveridge said that issue is not driving blacks out of the borough.

In fact, the economic downturn is the only reason the migration out of Queens is not larger.

“People are hanging on to what they have,” he said.

Beveridge pointed out that many parts of the South also have high foreclosure rates and did not stop Queens residents from moving there.

“People who move South seem to like the lifestyle better. It is easier in the smaller city to get around and they have job opportunities,” he said.

Comrie agreed. The councilman said victims of foreclosure in southeast Queens are usually making the best of it and, in the worst-case scenario, staying with relatives or friends in the borough since they have nowhere else to go.

“It didn’t impact us because the foreclosure crisis hit new homeowners and immigrants,” he said.

Comrie said the majority of those moving out are retired people who made southeast Queens their home for decades but had no reason to stay in New York for their golden years. With the children away, the seniors have no real outlet for their spare time, according to the councilman.

“There are no real entertainment venues or restaurants,” he said.

Although Beveridge said he sees no sign of the exodus changing anytime soon, Comrie wants to keep those residents in his community by pushing for more amenities and establishments.

“We need to have southeast Queens more adequate for older folks,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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