By Soraya Denis
QUEENS, NY – Haitian-American community activist Sabine French is on a quest to fill late Assemblywoman Barbara Clark’s seat. The district includes Hollis, Queens Village, St. Albans, Cambria Heights and Bellerose.
French, a real estate paralegal, has lived in Cambria Heights most her life and cites her work in the real estate industry as the reason she was brought to community service.
“I believe in the power of economic equality and activism,” she said. “I’m not taking this election on as politician, I’m taking this election on as a member of the community.
“As a real estate housing professional, I’ve both personally and professionally been affected by the subprime lending fiasco that hit Southeast Queens.”
Southeast Queens residents were the biggest victims of the subprime lending crisis that hit the nation nearly 10 years ago. Prices of single-family homes in the area saw some of the biggest drops of value in the city. Neighborhoods like St. Albans and Queens Village were some of the hardest hit, leading the city in number of foreclosures per month.
According to French, she is committed to educating residents about their rights in regards to foreclosures and the harms of predatory lending. Often, homeowners end up owing more than their home is worth, while foreclosed homes often stay vacant, eventually becoming squatter homes.
French said she would commit to supporting outreach into the community to educate them about their rights in regards to foreclosures. Many homeowners had been victims of predatory lending, and when they receive a modification on their mortgage it would often include debt that had been deemed to be due to predatory lending practices.
“The Haitian community in Queens is not given much value as voters,” she said. “When representatives believe that we don’t come out to vote, we are then at the bottom of the totem poll to receive services.
“Our community is underrepresented in comparison to Brooklyn. My final message to the nationalized Haitians is we have to become involved in this country where we pay taxes. I want to educate the community, at large, we are one.”
French will face Roy Paul, Nantasha Williams, Bryan Block and fellow Haitian American Clyde Vanel in the Sept. 13 primary.