Tag Archives: Pomonok Houses

91-year-old WWII veteran fighting NYCHA for Flushing apartment


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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Ninety-one-year-old Ralph Calinda has fought his fair share of battles over his lifetime.

He fought for the United States during World War II, he battles diabetes and high blood pressure every day, and now he’s facing a different conflict — keeping the apartment he has called home for more than 60 years.

Calinda lives alone in a three-bedroom apartment in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Pomonok Houses in Flushing. Through NYCHA’s downsizing policy, which moves residents who “overuse apartments” to smaller ones, the city agency wants to kick him out of his home.

They have sent letters to force him to take one-bedroom apartments, but in foreign neighborhoods such as the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City and the Ravenswood Houses in Astoria. Finally, they asked him to move to an apartment in the Pomonok Houses, but it lacked essential appliances and was unfurnished. Calinda, who retired nearly three decades ago, believes he wouldn’t even be able to make the move physically or financially, since he depends on social security payments.

Councilman Rory Lancman and other politicians rallied with Calinda and his family against the NYCHA policy in a protest on Friday, to call on the agency to halt its downsizing of senior residents and to overhaul the initiative.

“They have lately stepped up in a very, very aggressive way,” Lancman said about NYCHA. “We are here today to demand that they stop and that they treat their long-time residents like valuable citizens of the communities that they’ve lived in, rather than as pieces of furniture they can move around from one place to the other.”

Calinda uses a cane to walk, and that’s only during the rare times he leaves his apartment. “Pop,” as he is known among family members, friends and neighbors, now enjoys painting, word puzzles and gardening.

But before he retired, Calinda used to build fighter jets for the Air Force. He even helped build the NASA space shuttles, and although Calinda wouldn’t say which one, he allegedly engraved the name of his late wife on the tail of one of the space rockets.

Calinda raised seven children from his apartment, which has six rooms, counting a living room, kitchen and a bathroom. He said he may have been willing to leave if NYCHA first came to him when his kids became adults and left 30 years ago, but not now.

“It’s been my home for so long, I just think it should be my home forever,” he said.

NYCHA has yet to return a request for comment.

 

 

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Flushing man gets 25 years to life for killing over $200 debt


| mchan@queenscourier.com


A 20-year-old from Flushing was sentenced to a maximum of life in prison for killing a man over a $200 debt he owed.

Victim Laseam Hogan, 27, lent the money to Malcolm Thompson of the Pomonok Houses in 2010, according to the district attorney.

Hogan approached Thompson for his $200 in a Pomonok Houses courtyard months later on October 15, officials said. Instead of repaying his debt, then-18-year-old Thompson shot Hogan to death, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

“I’ll dead you. You ain’t getting (expletive),” Thompson allegedly told Hogan before whipping out his gun, according to prosecutors.

Thompson fired bullets at Hogan’s leg and torso, then stood over him and let another three rounds hit Hogan’s torso, neck and head, according to Brown.
Thompson was sentenced last week to 25 years to life in prison, Brown said.

He was convicted in August of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon after a four-week jury trial.

“The price that the defendant must now pay to settle what originally had been a minor unpaid debt is of his own doing,” Brown said. “The defendant has shown that he had little regard for human life and is deserving of the serious punishment meted out.”

 

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Unhappy Housing Authority residents offered payment plan for new parking spots


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rory Lancman

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is offering an installment plan to ease parking rate hikes on burdened drivers.

“Increases are a way of life, but if it’s falling on the residents, at least give us ample time to prepare for this increase,” said Craig Kinsey, president of the James A. Bland Resident Association. “Not to give these residents enough time to pay—it was totally unheard of, insensitive and immoral.”

NYCHA increased parking costs this year for residents paying for unreserved spaces. Costs went up to $265 for most drivers, $212 for seniors and a whopping $500 for on-site employees.

NYCHA spokesperson Zodet Negrón the agency is getting rid of unreserved parking lots and changing them to reserved ones starting May 1.

She said the shift, which will designate a specific spot for each driver, will improve safety and make enforcement easier.

Conversion plans were released last December, with notifications reaching residents in March and April, according to the agency. But residents in the borough’s two NYCHA houses said authorities did not give them enough time to make payments.

“My son is going to college. I’m paying deposit fees for tuition, deposit fees for room and board,” said Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association. “I’d be stuck if I had to choose between my son’s education and parking fees. I’d be parking on the street.”

Drivers in 43 developments throughout the city now have the option to pay in four installments instead of in full.

The first payment is due April 30.

The installment plan is only available this year for residents who have not yet paid the lump sum.

“It’s better than paying all at once,” Corbett said. “It’s a new avenue for the Housing Authority. But sometimes when you don’t include the major stakeholders, things get lost in translation.”

NYCHA began a new partnership with Greystone Parking Services in March. The payment plan was offered “in response to concerns expressed by many residents,” a spokesperson said.

Kinsey lambasted the agency, saying NYCHA should have included residents in earlier discussions.

“You put a band aid on the wound, but the wound is there,” he said. “We’re working check by check like every other individual who is two checks away from being homeless. These are not objects. These are people that you’re dealing with.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast. High of 59. Winds from the North at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the East in the afternoon. Chance of rain 20%. Monday night: Overcast with rain. Low of 54. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the NNE after midnight. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.2 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY:  Queens Restaurant Week 

The ninth annual Queens Restaurant Week starts today with many eateries offering prix-fixe menus at $25 for a three-course meal or other specials. More than 100 restaurants are participating in the event, which takes place October 8-11 and October 15-18. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Poll finds tight Queens state Senate race

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. and City Councilman Eric Ulrich are locked in a tight race for Addabbo’s Queens seat in a key battle for control of the Senate, a new poll finds. Read more: New York Post

New York City Housing Authority finally placing cameras at the Pomonok Houses in Queens, but mostly in areas where there is no crime

It seems like a no-brainer — put the cameras where the crime is. But that’s not what happened at the Pomonok Houses in Queens, a Daily News examination found. Read more: New York Daily News

Friends to have fundraiser for Army Guardsman in police shooting

The friends of the Army National Guardsman who was shot and killed by a detective during a traffic stop in Queens, will raise money to help his family pay for his funeral Sunday. Read more: Fox New York

Students turned away from SATs because of ID confusion

Taking the SAT is a rite of passage for many high schoolers but some Queens students were mistakenly turned away because of confusion over their IDs. Read more: NY1

MetroCards go on sale with ads on both sides

It sputtered out of the subway vending machine, an oddity that deserved careful examination. Some riders asked a station agent how to swipe it. One woman was confused about whether it was even a MetroCard at all. Read more: New York Times

Yankees win ALDS playoff opener over Orioles 7-2

CC Sabathia, Russell Martin and the New York Yankees crashed a party that was 15 years in the making. Read more: Wall Street Journal

Obama ribs his own debating; Romney eyes speech

On a last dash for cash in the celebrity scene of California, President Barack Obama on Sunday took a good-natured shot as his own underwhelming debate performance, marveling at how his friends in the entertainment business could turn in flawless showings every time. Read more: AP

 

 

Queens Afternoon Roundup


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The Afternoon Roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Cloudy with occasional showers, with a high of 55. Winds light and variable, 50% chance of rain. Sunday night: Rain ending, partial clearing overnight, with a low of 44. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.

As daughter prepares for dangerous brian surgery, Queens dad has heart attack at her bedside

It was a complication no one could have predicted. Queens schoolgirl Khosboo Persaud, stricken with epilepsy since infancy, was about to undergo delicate brain surgery that could end her crippling seizures. Even with six doctors in the operating room at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, there was a tiny chance something could go wrong, like bleeding or a stroke. As it turned out, the real medical crisis happened hours before the 12-year-old went under the knife, while her team was wrapping up preop testing. Khosboo’s father, Mohabir, had a heart attack. Read More: Daily News

 New York City Housing Authority finally placing cameras at the Pomonok Houses in Queens, but mostly in areas where there is no crime

It seems like a no-brainer — put the cameras where the crime is. But that’s not what happened at the Pomonok Houses in Queens, a Daily News examination found. In late 2009, tenants at the public housing project got local politicians to set aside $700,000 for cameras they were told would be installed throughout the complex. Years passed as NYCHA tried to figure out how to best spend the taxpayers’ money. After all that planning, the residents learned in the last few weeks a sobering fact — only 13 of Pomonok’s 35 buildings will get cameras. And most perplexing of all, most will be placed in areas where there’s no crime. Read More: Daily News

Toddler remains found buried in L.I. backyard

Police have discovered what they believe to be the remains of Justin Kowalczic, a missing 17-month-old boy in Farmingdale, Long Island. According to investigators, Kowalczic’s remains were found buried in the backyard of the home Justin’s mother Heather Kowalczik rented with her boyfriend and their two other children. The search for Justin was ignited Wednesday. Read More: NBC NY

NYPD cop who shot unarmed GCP driver was ‘fearing for his life,’ sources say

The cop insists he was “fearing for his life.” Elite NYPD unit Detective Hassan Hamdy believed that Army National Guardsman Noel Polanco “was reaching for a weapon” right before Hamdy shot the unarmed Queens man during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway, sources familiar with the cop’s account told The Post yesterday. Read More: NY Post

Paralyzed woman from Queens now wants life support

A Queens woman who was given the right to be taken off her respirator now says she wants to live, according to her lawyer. 28-year-old Sungeun Grace Lee is paralyzed from the neck down from a brain tumor and Friday, a Brooklyn Appellate court ruled she could be discontinued from life support. Read More: Fox NY

 

Queens mother arrested for 2-year-old son’s murder


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


The mother of a two-year-old who was strangled to death last week was arrested Monday and charged with the boy’s murder, police said.

On August 10, officers responded to a 911 call of an unconscious baby at 155-14 Jewel Avenue at the Pomonok Houses. When they arrived, officials found two-year-old Izayah Hall unresponsive, and he was transported to New York Hospital Queens where he was pronounced dead.

The following day, the boy’s death was ruled a homicide. According to the NYPD, at the scene the mother, Afriyie Gaspard, 29, claimed to have found him unconscious.

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.”