Housing Authority Wants Tenants to Downsize, Residents Say

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tenants at a Lower East Side public housing development say the city's housing authority is pressuring them to give up their larger apartments for smaller ones that fit their family size.  Many of the tenants are senior citizens who've lived in their current home decades.

Estelle Leak, 59, said she and her elderly mother live in a three-bedroom apartment at the Jacob Riis Houses and recently got a letter notifying them they would need to relocate to a two-bedroom unit. 

Leak said her wheelchair-bound mother has lived in the same apartment for 51 years: "She doesn't want to go. That's her life. That's her home. That's not an apartment — it's her home," she said.

Julia Mulero said she already gave up her three-bedroom unit for a one-bedroom in the same building. Molero said at one time there were five people in her family, but now she's the only one left. 

The 60-year old said she was all right with moving because it lowered her $824 monthly rent by about $200, and she was allowed to stay in the same building. Plus, she said she was told if she didn't go she'd be taken to court. 

"I'm satisfied, but as long as they don't get us out of here I'll be happy because this has been my home for all my life," Mulero said. Like other tenants, she worries the New York City Housing Authority it trying to empty the Lower East Side complex to make room for private, luxury development. NYCHA said there's no truth to that claim.

Clara Garcia has also received a letter asking her to downsize from her current three-bedroom unit. The NYCHA tenant said so far she's refused to respond. She said she keeps one of the bedrooms for her daughter who visits from Florida often. Garcia said in the 40 years she's lived in her current apartment, she's spent alot of money fixing it up.

"I don't ask NYCHA for anything," Garcia said. "My sons paint and fix everything."

NYCHA said residents living in apartments that are inappropriate for their family size are required by federal regulations and local policies to transfer to smaller units: "The units that are vacated by these transfers are then made available to the more than 130,000 residents on our waiting list who are in need of these housing units," it said in a statement.


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Comments [6]

ivory jackson from NYC 10029

I have diastolic heart failure and I am in stage 3A cancer. This means I have a cancer that has metastasized. The doctors predict 5 years or less to live. I will go to court to keep my apartment. If a landlord rents a single person a one bedroom apartment, it should be illegal to put them into a studio without due cause. I am 72. I have never given a party or have visitors in and out of my house. I have been in my apartment 11 years and have never been late with my rent. I have not written on the walls or spit on the floors. It should be illegal to remove me without extenuating circumstances. I will not leave my apartment unless the Supreme Court tells me to. I am to take chemo' starting next week. This problem along with failing health is starting to "break" me. I would like to know whom to appeal to as my first line of defense. Even if I am not moved, I would like to see a law made to prevent this action to all senior citizens (Those who do not want to move). I have a Master's Degrees in Sociology and still lucid to take on the challenge.

Sep. 21 2013 07:44 AM
Aileen from New York, NY

How about this for a conspiracy theory: NYCHA is pushing out the people who have lived in these apartments to make way for more undesirable people. You know, the degenerates who live off of welfare, have 10 kids, and who have no consideration for their fellow tenants hence the loud music at 1:00am in the morning, and who don't care about the buildings they live in hence the state of so many, so that outside developers, who would love to take over some of these housing developments, can actually do just that, take them over, with the blessing of our lovely (ugh) mayor, turn them into condos and charge ridiculous amounts of money just to rent or buy one. They like to see themselves as being the gentrifiying saviors of the neighborhood. Mount Sinai hospital has been dying to take over the Carver Projects for some time. Now the tenants of Carver are receiving these letters...hmmm..

Feb. 17 2012 01:31 PM

Continued issues at Savoy Park Development which have now c aused health issues for some of the elderly tenants, will be more than happy to share this information with Ms. Rodriguez.

Mar. 07 2011 09:28 AM
Paul J. Bosco from Manhattan

Sometimes you just have to make the best of a lose-lose situation. Who would want to move from one's home of 30+ years? But if you're talking about apartments that are publicly subsidized, I guess a single person should not be living in FIVE subsidized rooms, while families of five live in three rooms.

It's interesting to compare this situation with that of multi-decade occupants of rent-controlled/stabiized apartments in privately owned buildings.

Mar. 01 2011 02:42 PM

That's right shuffle folks around. The REAL issue is affordable housing! And not just in the 5 boroughs; in the tri-state area. Many of us commute 3 hours a day to live in areas that are moderately cheaper. You have to go where the jobs are, however, often the (affordable) housing is not there.

Mar. 01 2011 09:13 AM
Danube from NYC

I believe tenants should not be uprooted far from long-time homes or into outer boroughs unless they feel comfortable with such a drastic proposals.

Down-sizing is necessary and I don't believe taxpayers should pay for a vacant guest room when others are desperate for housing.

Despite of all that, the overall problem is not going to be solved until the city starts building enough affordable housing on regular basis. I also suspect that matters will only get worse with the ongoing elimination of affordable housing (rent regulated housing and Mitchell Lama housing) and continued plague of a high unemployment rate.

I also believe such affordable housing should not be made available to transient tenant (i.e. students and illegal hotel tenants).

Feb. 28 2011 08:09 PM

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