NYCHA attempts to lure elderly from their homes with incentives

May 24, 2011 01:21PM

The New York City Housing Authority is targeting residents with more space than they need. Those people are mostly the elderly, according to the New York Daily News, who are living alone after raising their families in multi-room apartments. At least 45,000 of NYCHA’s 180,000 apartments are under-occupied, including 7,000 three- or four-bedroom residences with just one occupant, while more than 2,600 families big enough to qualify for the larger spaces squeeze into tiny apartments.

NYCHA is attempting to entice grannies from their oversized homes with subsidized private apartments in buildings with better facilities for the disabled, but is not resorting to throwing them out just yet.

“We have to optimize [apartments] in the most humane way possible,” said NYCHA Chairman John Rhea. “We have to not only serve granny better because, let’s face it, granny’s not being served in a world-class way today … but we also have to serve those families who are overcrowded.”

“It’s NYCHA doing a better job of saying, ‘Wait a minute, Mrs. Smith; what’s your fear here? Why not take a voucher that not only serves your needs but also helps us?,’” he continued.

The plan has attracted dissent from some elderly residents fearful of losing their long-time homes. “I have a lot of memories here,” said Louise Velez, 67. “How can you be taking people out of their homes after so many years?”

One mother, living in a two-bedroom apartment in the Lower East Side’s Baruch Houses with five children, feels differently. “I hate to say it,” she confessed, “but it’s like you’re waiting for these people to die.” [NYDN]