Tag Archives: Michael Simanowitz

Teens to need parental consent for body piercings


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Bayside teen Elana Campane is considering getting her belly button pierced. She hasn’t told her parents yet, and she’s not sure that they will approve of a piercing that’s not in her ears.

For now, the 17-year-old doesn’t need their permission, but she will in a few months when New York becomes the 32nd state to make it illegal for minors to get a body piercing without parental consent.

Luckily, said Campane, she will turn 18 at the end of December.

The new law, which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed on Tuesday, July 31, requires anyone under 18 years old to obtain written consent by a parent or guardian before getting a piercing on any part of the body except for the ear.

“Body piercings can pose a significant health risk if not cared for properly,” said Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, who co-sponsored the bill. “This will now ensure that parents are aware of their son or daughter’s intent to receive a body piercing which will hopefully prevent complications such as allergic reactions, skin infections or scarring.”

According to the governor’s office, about 20 percent of all body piercings result in infection.

After reading an article about the risks of body piercing, Simanowitz discovered that although it is illegal to tattoo anyone under 18 without parental permission, there was no minimum age requirement for body piercings.

“My children’s school can’t give my 14-year-old a Tylenol without permission, but he can walk into a store and get a body piercing,” said Simanowitz.

A minor will assess the risk of a body piercing differently than an adult, he added.

Piercing studios will need to check the identification of those suspected of being underage, and the owner or body piercing specialist must be present when a parental consent form is signed. The state health department will oversee the new law.

But it’s already common practice for some body piercing places to card potential minors and require signed consent, said Juan Orellana, co-owner of Skin Konviction, a tattoo and body piercing studio in Flushing.

“We’d rather not take any chances,” he said.

Seniors fight relocation at Pomonok


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Pomonok Press Conference15w

The “golden” residents of Pomonok Houses are refusing to let the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) send them off into the sunset.

Senior citizens, many of whom have lived in Pomonok for multiple decades, are furious after they say NYCHA sent them threatening letters demanding they move into a different apartment or an entirely new housing complex.

“I think this is terrible and a travesty,” said Carolyn Ledogar, 71, who has lived in Pomonok for 52 years. “It is terrible that people in their 70s and 80s are getting letters that we have to vacate or relocate. We are supposed to be in our golden years. What golden years?”

Residents like Ledogar, who live in apartments deemed to be under-utilized based on the number of people occupying them, began receiving letters last month informing them they may have to move into smaller units to make room for larger families.

Initial letters offered $350 to offset incurred moving expenses and requested residents visit the Pomonok management office within 10 business days to discuss their living situation. A second, sterner letter followed, notifying recipients they had to visit the office or their lease would be terminated.

“NYCHA faces a real crisis with more than 161,000 people on its waiting list for public housing,” NYCHA officials told The Courier. “There are nearly 50,000 people in NYCHA housing units who are not living in apartments properly sized for their needs – meaning they have too many rooms for their family size.”

According to a NYCHA spokesperson, the letters were sent in compliance with a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirement, and that each resident’s lease includes notification of potential relocation. To facilitate seniors, NYCHA is partnering with Met Council, which is developing new senior housing adjoining Pomonok, located at 67-10 Parsons Boulevard in Flushing.

“NYCHA is not bullying residents out of their apartments,” said Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association. “On the lease, it says that when you become under-occupied, NYCHA sends you this letter. People complain to me but I have two sides – people who need and people who don’t need. I have mothers who are in one-bedroom apartments with five kids, and they have been on a waiting list for over 10 years. Then I have other apartments which are under-occupied, because the resident’s children have moved out.”

Upon receiving the letters, many residents flooded the offices of Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz with phone calls, complaining about the possibility of eviction.

“It is unfair what the housing authority is doing,” said the assemblymember. “No one denies that there is a need for larger sized families, but to threaten people that if they don’t move they would be in violation of their lease is completely unfair. We are talking about senior citizens. A lot of these seniors are living alone and the only safety nets and lifelines they have are their neighbors.”

Simanowitz claims NYCHA has known for years that some residents have been living alone, and choosing to send the letters now is “inhumane” and “selective enforcement.”

Ledogar, who has lived in the same two-bedroom apartment for the past 40 years, has osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and two herniated discs.

“All of us in Pomonok are very angry,” she said. “The seniors don’t want to move. If they try and force us to move then we go to court. I’m not going to cater to them, and none of the other seniors will. If we have to go to court, at least we’re going down fighting.”