Tag Archives: senior citizens

Pol touts Ridgewood’s successes and the challenges ahead


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan discussed the many assets and issues facing Ridgewood at Thursday night’s swearing-in ceremony of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) officials and board of directors held at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

“We have something very special here,” Nolan said. “It’s kind of ironic—lately it seems like the whole world is just finding that out. That’s going to present a whole new set of challenges for Ridgewood.”

In her address to the group, Nolan focused on the many positive aspects and improvements made in Ridgewood over the years, including bus and transit hub upgrades, the efforts and achievements of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), and advances in local healthcare.

Nolan also cited improvements in sanitation, such as Ridgewood’s successful composting program and high recycling rates, as a major asset within the community.

“Ridgewood is the cleanest neighborhood in the city because we made that a priority,” she said. “We thought of it as just keeping our homes clean, but now we see the environmental benefit as well.”

Ridgewood’s growth and development as an environmentally friendly, sustainable community was also celebrated. According to Nolan, the availability of mass transit, as well as the ability to walk to stores and venues within the community, lessened dependence on cars, reducing pollution and improving the local environment.

In addition to improvements, Nolan also addressed the many challenges facing Ridgewood, including mass transit, the loss of manufacturing and an increase in domestic violence, which she referred to as a “hidden problem” in the community. Nolan’s office and the 104th Precinct are trying to combat domestic violence through expanded outreach and communication in the wake of last week’s deadly attack on Grove Street.

An issue of particular concern was the challenges facing senior citizen tenants struggling to hold on to their apartments amid rent hikes in the area. Nolan and RPOCA President Charles Ober discussed introducing legislation that would expand the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) to three- and four-family homes. SCRIE is a property tax rebate offered to landlords with the incentive of reducing the rent of a senior tenant residing in their properties.

In 2014, funding to the SCRIE Program was increased from $29,000 to $50,000. Currently, the exemption is only available to dwellings with six or more units. Nolan vowed to form a council in Albany that would draft legislation expanding eligibility to three- and four-family homes.

“It’s long overdue and I think we could try,” Nolan said.

Nolan swore in the 2015 RPOCA officers, including President Charles Ober, First Vice President Joseph Segreti, Second Vice President John Maier, Third Vice President Domingo Santos, Recording Secretary Maryellen Borello, Financial Secretary Helen Kutch and Sergeant-At-Arms Carlos Ortiz.

The RPOCA board of directors sworn in included Henry Cross, Geoffrey Elkind, Gregory Haufe, John Hertling, Voytek Oktawiec, Jamie Taratoot, Simon Orr, Richard Wessley, Louis Rodriguez and Chairperson Patricia Grayson.

Pastor Thomas Goodhart from Trinity Reformed Church in Ridgewood offered a Benediction at the swearing-in ceremony.

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Police say be wary of phone scams


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

Officers are encouraging people, especially senior citizens, to be cautious when it comes to potential scams.

On March 3 a Whitestone senior got a call from a man posing as a Brooklyn cop. The man told the victim his grandson had been arrested and in order for him to be released they needed $2,400 in bail bonds sent to Peru, since, he claimed, all local establishments were backed up.

The victim complied, but when the suspect called back, asking for more money, the senior called his daughter-in-law, who told him everything was, in fact, fine.

The victim was out $2,400.

A police source offered these tips to help stop potential scammers:

1. No police department would ever call you and tell you to send bail bond money.

2. Always check with family first to see if the story corroborates.

3. If you are asked to send money overseas, a red flag should go up immediately.

4. Use caller ID – if you don’t know the number, don’t answer, and if you do, save the digits.

Program seeks volunteers to help the elderly


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Chris Schneider

Chris Schneider spent 33 years as a social studies teacher before he joined the Northeast Queens Senior Services. Now, as program manager, he spends his time finding volunteers to visit lonely seniors.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Schneider. “The elderly seem to be forgotten. Today, it’s becoming frequent that children don’t live near their parents because of jobs, and the elderly are left alone. Many get lonely, and we help to fill that void.”

The program — which is funded by Meals on Wheels and sponsored by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens — pairs seniors in northeast Queens with compassionate volunteers. Schneider said, among many activities, volunteers play cards, take a walk and watch television with seniors.

Schneider also gets in touch with seniors who have meals delivered to their homes. When someone needs more than a meal, Schneider said he pays a visit to assess their needs and matches them with volunteers.

Schneider, a seven-year long program veteran, said Northeast Queens Senior Services is rewarding for both the volunteers and for the seniors. According to Schneider, some pairs have been together for six months and some as long as five years.

“It’s tremendous for seniors because they know they’re just a call away from being able to spend time with someone, and volunteers get a great deal of satisfaction being able to help someone who has no one,” he said.

Constantly on the search for volunteers, Schneider said he visits any place from colleges and high schools to churches and synagogues. While he said the program has about 45 to 50 who donate their time, Schneider said the number is not enough.

To become a volunteer, contact Chris Schneider at 516-641-7541.

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.”