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NYCHA seeks to evict seniors from Pomonok

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (l.), who once sat on the Committee on Aging, stands with Sen. Toby Stavisky to protest how the New York City Housing Authority went about forcing seniors to move out of their Pomonok Houses apartments. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

Lawmakers blasted the city Monday for its policy of forcing residents as old as 90 out of their longtime homes in Pomonok Houses to make space for larger families.

In the middle of last month, the New York City Housing Authority sent out letters to some residents of the complex, at 67-10 Parsons Blvd., informing them that they had to leave their homes. If they did not request a smaller apartment by Dec. 5, they would risk being moved anywhere in the borough.

Lila Poris has lived in the same apartment for 51 years. She and her husband raised two children in the two-bedroom unit, but the younger generation moved out long ago to start families of their own and her husband died about five years ago.

“My whole life is tied up here,” said the 84-year-old woman, who just had a hip replacement and now lives alone in an apartment that used to house a family of four. “It’s criminal.”

In mid-November she — along with what politicians estimate is 200 others in the complex — received the letter from NYCHA explaining that her apartment was underused and she was required under her lease to move to a smaller unit so another family could occupy her unit.

A subsequent letter said much of the same thing, but ended with a bold-face sentence: “If you do not submit the completed Tenant Request for Transfer indicating your transfer choice within the next ten days, you will be placed on a waiting list for the first appropriate size apartment that becomes available in your borough; you will not have any choice.”

NYCHA said that there is already 161,000 people on a waiting list for public housing. About 50,000 people live in apartments that are bigger than they need, NYCHA said.

“It is critical that NYCHA utilize this scarce public resource as it was intended — to assist the greatest number of families eligible for affordable and subsidized housing,” NYCHA said in a statement.

State Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Electchester) called the letter “threatening” and likened it to an eviction.

He advised residents who did not want to move not to fill out the form and pledged his support should NYCHA take any of the residents to court.

“I have no problem asking people who live in underutilized apartments to move to smaller units,” he said. “But when a person is in their 80s or 90s and has a lifetime of memories in that apartment, to tell them that they must move is cruel.”

Simanowitz instead called on the city to provide more incentives for tenants to move to smaller units — and to do it sooner.

NYCHA has known for decades that the apartments were underused since they survey residents each year about family size, but have only decided to force out Pomonok tenants now and many are in their twilight years, he said.

Many of the seniors have no family left and rely on neighbors for support. One woman in her 80s said that if it were not for her longtime friends, “you could drop dead and nobody would know the difference.”

Many of the residents live on a fixed income and the $350 incentive the city provided to move is not nearly enough to cover the costs, according to Simanowitz.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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Reader Feedback

Fern Ghauri from former resident of Kew Gardens Hills says:
I find this entire policy of the NYCHA both nasty and intrusive in the extreme. How does anyone determine that an apartment is "underused"? Are they about to make rules on what the proper rate or amount of "use" is for an apartment? Feeling satisfaction and honoring memories in one's own apartment does not constitute an "appropriate" use, I suppose.

Of course this is nonsense. The Authority just wants to find a way of charging higher rents. It is behaving like many greedy landlords who have tried to pull the same disgusting switch.

Bad use of "authority"? Sounds like it to me. Maybe someone should send NYCHA a note detailing the rules and appropriate uses of "authority."
Dec. 9, 2011, 6:44 am
Stewie Perlman from Ex-Pomonok resident 1952 - 1973 says:
It is shameful that the NYCHA is cruel and arrogant as it submits threatening "eviction" notices to many of the community's elderly Pomonok residents. Surely, the Authority can find a better and more equitable way to accomodate those families who are eager to throw out the longtime residents. As wanting as the potential families are who want to replace those who already live there, maybe they should consider the deprivation that will have to be endured if the older residents are forced to move. No one lives forever, so the families who want to move in need to exercise compassion and patience. They will be able to move in sooner than later. In the mean time, the Authority needs to exercise the same compassion and patience. Their egregious behavior should not be tolerated.

Thanks for your indulgence from a former resident who grew up in Pomonok.
Dec. 9, 2011, 11:39 pm
Kenae Etheridge from Queens says:
If you are one or two persons in a three bedroom or larger I can agree with NYCHA requiring you to move to a smaller apartment to make way for a larger apartment. I thoroughly disagree with forcing single individuals 80 years in a two bedroom apartment to move to a smaller apartment without out offering moving assistance and secure apartments in the development of choice.
Dec. 23, 2011, 11:55 am
Eileen Lebowitz from Mom lives in Pomonok since 1952 original tenant says:
I think it is disgusting that the city has the balls to tell these elderly people who have lived in their apartments most of their life they are at risk of losing their homes.

I don't give a damn about who is on the waiting list, they will just have to wait until these people pass. Stop stressing them out with the threats.

I was raised here, my sister was born here just one month after moving in. I am 64 she will be 60. We are still close friends with those we grew up with. We have fond memories and will not allow the city to take what time my mom - at 91 - has left and have her worried about being thrown out.
Jan. 26, 2012, 11:12 pm
elizabeth from Far away says:
I can see people being moved to a smaller, more appropriately sized apartment, if larger families are in need. I grew up there and size of family mattered. But having said that, there is an appropriate way to help the elderly people get ready and actually help them in the process. Peace brothers and sisters!
March 10, 2013, 3:38 pm
katherine from queens says:
I think it's absolutely outrageous for NYCHA to expect
seniors who have lived in their apartments for most of their lives to move out!!!! They don't bother anyone
and pay their rent! If NYCHA needs more units
then build more buildings and create more units!
NYCHA should be ashamed of themselves for acting
this way towards our seniors!
How would NYCHA like it if this happened to their
grandparents???
I am completely disgusted by this!
Feb. 25, 9 am

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