Fear Losing Their Homes
From El Diario
August, 22, 2002
By Gloria Medina
Where will we go from under the bridge? We need help from Human
Rights! Why do they discriminate against those under Section 8?
So read some of the placards that dozens of tenants carried when
they met in front of the offices of Cosmopolitan Associates LLC
to demonstrate and ask that the owner not force them out of their
Among those present elderly, disabled persons, underprivileged
mothers and children was Adela Veras, a 93-year-old Dominican
woman, who was in a wheelchair and said through tears that she did
not have a place to go if they took away her apartment.
"Learning that those under Section 8 were going to be forced
out has affected her greatly. She cries and says that she would
prefer to be dead," said Mercedes Alejo, a nurse who cares
for Veras 12 hours a day. "Sometimes she even asks me to take
her home, but I cant do that."
The problem began in the beginning of 2002 when the Section 8 tenants
received a letter from the building manager. This letter
informed them that in 2003 the contract with the city obliging managers
to accept the Section 8 program would end, and they would no longer
accept tenants with this kind of government aid. This would leave
almost 250 families without a home.
Although they have yet to kick out a family from their apartment,
the notice has effected many people, especially the elderly disabled
people like Francisca Rodríguez.
Rodríguez, a Dominican who arrived in the country almost
30 years ago is now 65. She lives alone in her apartment, suffers
from the beginning stages of osteoporosis, and can almost never
walk. She also suffers from diabetes, dizziness, and recently underwent
Learning that she would probably have to leave her apartment and
find a new home left Rodriguez with acute depression. "I was
desperate, but I couldnt go to look for an apartment due to
the fact that I can hardly walk and I dont know any English.
Where was I supposed to find an apartment that accepted tenants
under Section 8?" said Rodríguez, recounting the helplessness
she felt in those moments.
Rodríguez arrived in New York February 14, 1977 in search
of the American dream. She worked until she was 62, when her health
problems would not allow her to continue being the independent woman
she had been before.
Abraham Cruz, the director of Woodside on the Move, an organization
dealing with housing rights, and the organizer of the demonstration,
said that he would continue fighting so that Seltzer would not leave
these families without homes.
"[The owner] did not want to arrive at any agreement in the
meeting that we had with Tenants & Neighbors and Woodside
on the Move and was very cynical in the response that he gave
us," added De la Cruz.
Moreover, De la Cruz said that they are in the process of finding
a lawyer to investigate the conditions of the contract and if possible
bring the owner to court.
The manager of the buildings did not leave his office during the
protest and limited himself to a, "No comment."
Section 8 is a housing program that aids people of limited resources.
Translated from Spanish by Naomi Lim