The New York City Housing Authority has come under fire in the past for threatening to evict elderly New Yorkers, and it seems not much has changed recently: a 91-year-old WWII veteran says NYCHA is demanding he move out of the Queens home of more than 60 years into a smaller apartment, or face eviction.
NBC reports that Ralph Calinda is fighting to stay in his apartment at the Pomonok Houses in Flushing: "I'm 91 years old. All my friends, all I know is right here," he told them. Councilman Rory Lancman has come to his defense: "People aren't furniture. Someone like Mr. Calinda, who's lived here for 60 years, who's 91 years old, he can't be moved around, just put on a truck and moved to another apartment."
NYCHA's downsizing (or as they call it, "right-sizing") plan was put in place to accommodate families on the waiting list; as of last summer, the number of people on the waiting list was up to 270,000 people, while the total amount of public housing units in NYC was at 178,900. It gets worse: in a report last winter, it was reported that 2,300 units of NYCHA's total 178,914 units are vacant because of turnover or relocation, while nearly 800 sit empty because they need renovations. More than 300 of those apartments have been uninhabited for an average of seven years.
Calinda isn't the old senior citizen to face pressure from NYCHA: 88-year-old Blanche Bush, who lives in Marcus Garvey Village in Brownsville, has been asked to downsize too.
"Because I had four mini-strokes and two mild heart attacks, they want me to move. They don’t want me there period," she told CBS, vowing not to move. "Not after 33 years, I’m not going to—oh God, I’m going to fight them to the death. Uh-uh."