After the 122 elderly residents of the Prospect Park Residence at Grand Army Plaza were given a 90-day eviction notice back on March 5, many went into crisis mode. And now a lawsuit has been filed as a hope to halt the impending eviction and give the seniors a fighting chance amidst a skyrocketing housing market.
The lawsuit, aimed at the building owner and the NYS Department of Health, is in direct response to the failure of the DOH and the Residence to provide the necessary oversight in the transition process to another home while, at the same time, withholding necessary services, the New York Times reports.
Senator Charles Schumer has sent a letter to the Health Department asking them to reconsider the closure. However, if the closure is to happen, the letter states, “DOH must also enforce requirements of the plan for Prospect Park Residence to assist residents individually in the relocation process and provide packing and inventory services.”
“This is a moral indictment of a society that would let something like this happen,” local Councilmember Brad Lander told the Times. “They moved people in well after they filed their closure plan with the state, and that’s a galling act of deception, that you would represent to people that they could age in a place while you are were planning to evict them.”
At a moment when housing prices are soaring, the prospect of finding a new place to live is nearly a death sentence for some of the weaker residents. A daughter of a 97-year-old holocaust survivor who has been living at the residence for three years and is unaware that it is closing told the Brooklyn Paper, “There are a lot of people like my father for whom moving is an impossible option and would only mean that he would go downhill.”
A spokesman for the owner of the Residence cited taxes, maintenance, and required renovations as a burden that make keeping the space open impossible, adding that “claims of deception or fraud are without merit and we will vigorously defend our actions.”
Housing for the aging is a burden that the city is going to have to face. Another recent story in the Times notes that by 2030, it is estimated that 15.5% of the city’s population will be over 65. Right now that number is 12%, and almost a quarter of the city’s elderly community is living in poverty. Additionally, the elderly have specific housing needs and may be forced, without help from governmental organization like the Department of Health, to leave the city.