Far Rockaway is a neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula that sits between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. During the 1800s, the Rockaway peninsula became a vibrant beach community that later produced such influential persons as financier Carl Icahn, Nobel Laureates Baruch Samuel Blumberg, Richard Feynman and Burton Richter, and Pulitzer Prize winner Alan M. Kriegsman. Then, in the mid 20th Century, the Rockaways saw a significant decline in the vacation economy as New Yorkers took advantage of lower airfares to explore beaches outside of the Northeast. Middle income New Yorkers flocked to the peninsula to pursue affordable year-round housing but by the 1960s, affordable housing was replaced with low-income housing for New York City’s ever-growing population. By 1975, the Rockaways became home to 57% of the public housing in Queens, and decades of decline fueled by disinvestment and failed urban renewal policies turned the Rockaways into one of the poorest communities in America where the vast majority of residents have not completed high school, let alone aspired to such accomplishments as the Nobel or Pulitzer Prizes.
The Rockaway Peninsula is an isolated community for those with limited transportation and economic access to services in other parts of Queens and New York City. The northern end of the peninsula is composed mostly of City public housing developments and private homes of the working class, blue collar population. More than 30% of the community receives income support, 11% are uninsured and 25% are Medicaid eligible, with 14% of the population over 65 and thus beyond the key salary earning years with higher healthcare needs.
The Rockaway Center for Community Development and Education Reform partners with the various agencies serving Far Rockaway to provide programs and solutions to these and other complex urban problems.