Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Local Elected Officials Protest NYCHA Apartment Downsizing at Pomonok Houses

December 4, 2011
Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, Senator Toby Stavisky, Councilman James Gennaro, and other Queens elected officials stood united with elderly residents of Pomonok Houses in protest of the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) policy that they must give up the apartments they have lived in for decades for smaller units.

Seniors who are affected by the policy were notified by letter that they must make an appointment at their housing office to fill out a transfer request form. Failure to do so would be a violation of their lease and the risk of dire consequences are implied.

“This represents the complete failure of NYCHA management to fully understand the people who live here,” said Simanowitz. “These residents have proudly called Pomonok home their entire lives. They raised their families here, paid their rent on time, and built this development into the crown jewel of the NYCHA system. Such contributions to our community should be praised. NYCHA instead is attempting to throw them out of the only homes they have ever known and away from the neighbors who look after them like family. Additionally, many of these individuals cannot afford a move especially when NYCHA is offering a paltry $350 rent credit. It is unrealistic to believe that someone living on a fixed income can afford a move especially when moving companies typically charge thousands of dollars. This implementation of the downsizing policy is cruel and inhumane. While I understand that there is a housing shortage and families need larger living space, NYCHA should find a way to provide better incentives to those who have the larger units and encourage those who have the ability to move. They cannot use these threatening practices on our most vulnerable citizens at a time in their lives when uprooting them would have severe implications on their health and well being.”

"I understand that the Housing Authority needs more space,” said Stavisky. “We support public housing serving as many people as possible" said Senator Stavisky. "However, forcing individuals who have lived in Pomonok for decades to just pack up and move is unacceptable and inhumane. My constituents in Pomonok deserve better, and the Housing Authority needs to back off."

“Some residents have been living in their apartments at Pomonok for decades.” said Gennaro. “How would you feel if, after half a lifetime, someone came and forced you to move from the place you called home into a smaller apartment -- away from your friends and neighbors and possibly all the way across town? NYCHA must work with these seniors to find solutions that work for all of them.”

There are NYCHA regulations that allow for certain exemptions to the downsizing policy. If you have large medical equipment such as a hospital bed that necessitates an extra bedroom, you may be exempt. If you have a life threatening medical condition that can be documented, you may be exempt. To receive assistance, you can contact Assemblyman Simanowitz’s district office at 718-969-1508. The East River Development Alliance (ERDA) has contracted with the Pomonok Neighborhood Center to provide housing assistance for those who need it. You can schedule an appointment by calling ERDA at 718-784-0877.