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Park Slopers to Albany: Don’t let Prospect Park Residence fiasco happen again!

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State lawmakers must pass a bill that would stop the owners of old-folks homes evicting their elderly tenants on short notice, say Park Slopers whose loved ones were given just three months to scram from a notorious Grand Army Plaza nursing home.

Friends and family members of beleaguered Prospect Park Residence tenants will trek to Albany next month to share the harrowing ordeal they and their frail kin have been through since the landlord abruptly attempted to boot them out in 2014 so he could sell the facility for $76 million, and demand pols ratify the languishing legislation so it cannot happen again.

“It would not only allow elders to be able to plan with more options, but it would warn so-called ‘operators’ — who are usually property developers — that they cannot churn their buildings with impunity at the expense of the vulnerable,” said Sandy Reiburn, the daughter of a former tenant, who will meet with assistant speaker Felix Ortiz (D–Sunset Park) to discuss the bill on March 1.

The bill would place an immediate moratorium on any nursing homes closing for around two years while state officials launch a study into the stress that short-notice shutters place on oldsters. The results would ideally pave the way for a permanent law mandating owners give at least one year’s notice for any subsequent evictions, according to Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D–Park Slope), who re-introduced the measure last year after inheriting it from her predecessor.

Currently, retirement-home owners only have to give their residents 30 days’ notice to vamoose. Prospect Park Residence actually gave its wizened occupants 90 days’ notice to clear out, but even that was a huge burden for the oldsters — many of whom were more than 100 years old and dealing with chronic illnesses — said the daughter of one resident.

“It was absolute panic,” said Joyce Singer, whose mother Alice suffers from dementia. “I was afraid moving her would either kill her or affect her mental status.”

In the end, Alice Singer and a handful of other residents refused to leave, and are still living in the building while they fight the owner and state health department over the legality of the hasty closure — a battle that took on a life of its own after the holdouts claimed landlord Haysha Deitsch subsequently tried to harass them out by raising fees, feeding them moldy food, and turning off the air-conditioning.

But many of the 120-odd old timers who moved out when they were told to also suffered, according to a series of e-mails from family members to department officials — shared with this paper on the condition of anonymity — detailing the pain of watching their loved ones fall into depression and illness following the sudden upheaval.

“I am convinced that this decline was brought on by the shock of the forced move,” wrote the child of a former resident, claiming their mother began suffering memory failure and panic attacks after leaving.

The bill is currently crawling its way through the Assembly. The aging committee approved it in April last year, but the committee that handles finances still needs to check it out — a process the six advocates hope their face-to-face meeting will speed along.

Reiburn said she would rather see legislation that mandates the one-year minimum right off the bat — and will bring that up with lawmakers during the visit — but Simon said that would have to be an entirely different bill, and one she doesn’t think would gain much traction without the study to support it.

“The whole idea for the temporary study would be to investigate these issues,” she said.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 7:53 pm, February 19, 2016: Updated to clarify the specifics of the bill.
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Reasonable discourse

BrooklynGersh from The WT says:
Another toothless bill from another powerless Albany legislator. I have an idea for a bill: BUILD MORE HOUSING NOW. We need Fourth Avenue to be filled with 50-story towers with 25 stories of mandated affordable housing in every one. How about that for a bill?
Feb. 18, 2016, 8:59 am
Sandy Reiburn from Ft Greene says:
For all of us who (if we are lucky) will live long lives...or have loved ones who are aging...attention MUST BE PAID.

This Bill originated with former Assemblywoman Millman in March 2014...then sponsored by Assemblywoman Simon...It has been TWO YEARS in limbo.

Now, all that Bill might do in its present configuration (note-two years and still hasn't been ratified!) is to "study" the effects of long term care facility closures.

We are going to Albany as representatives of 123 evicted elders ...we are the witnesses to the "effects of closures on long term care facilities"...Albany can "study" us...

We are going to Albany to testify that the Dept of Health's complicity with so-called "operators" who are nothing more than property churners- must stop.

New and protective regulations by our Albany legislature is required. NOT ONE MONTH to kick out old and disabled voiceless people...ONE YEAR is the moral requirement if we are to be a decent society.
Feb. 18, 2016, 9:13 am
Family Member from Park Slope says:
My parent was one of the evicted residents of Prospect Park Residence. This is an example of what your loved ones and you might have to deal with and this is the government that we have to deal with.

Everyone involved knew exactly what would happen when they planned to inflict this abrupt dislocation on people this old and this sick. Many people died or declined rapidly as a direct result. What is there to study?

During the "study", many more people will keep suffering and dying as a result of this system. How long will you stand for this?

Feb. 18, 2016, 9:25 am
Chris from Prospect Heights says:
It astounds me that anyone would leave a loved one in this facility with "moldy food" and bad air conditioning. What point are they making? The situation is horrible and unfair but what is the point of subjecting a relative to abuse while the court case crawls on? We had a loved one about to move in but diverted them to an excellent facility where they received quality care.
Feb. 18, 2016, 12:06 pm
A Constituent of Jo Anne Simon from Brooklyn says:
Assemblywoman Simon seems to be doing business as usual, or is it nothing as usual. After years of tragic stories from abused seniors in her district shes still thinking about a study.

Hey Jo Anne, where do you think you'll be living in about 5 years?
Feb. 18, 2016, 12:39 pm
Cookie from Lower Manhattan says:
I've known some of the folks and workers in the building. It seemed like a decent place for the elderly.

The Real Estate industry strengthened exponentially by our last 3 term mayor is allowed to harass, maim and destroy the lives of whomever they please (unless loaded) without consequence not to mention then go pray to ______(take your pick) to receive dialysis for the remnants of their decayed conscience.
Why not move from tenants to libraries and the elderly.
Who's going to stop them? The same politicians creating NY city's out of control homeless population? DiBlasio is tied like Houdini when they chained him and threw him in icy, frozen water only DiBlasio is not a magician.
One hope is when the crooked politicians get old, the same torment will befall them in one way or another.
Cookie
Feb. 18, 2016, 12:40 pm
Cookie from Lower Manhattan says:
I just had a thought!
This may be a perfect example where eminent domain can be applied!
Take the building for fifty cents on the dollar and provide excellent health care for the rest of the elderly people's lives who labored, paid taxes and were productive citizen's their entire working lives!
Cookie
Feb. 18, 2016, 12:52 pm
We have been fooled by BDB from Park Slope says:
Meanwhile, Deblasio has been silent when it comes to this tragedy. Even worse the youthful staff that are all under 30 working for BDB has no clue about aging facilities like this so they don't know how to handle the problems. Call made to Anthony Shorris's office the Deputy, but seems his Chief of Staff is a shrill to BDB and gets a pay check but does nothing on a daily basis to help New Yorkers who are being kicked out of their homes.
Feb. 18, 2016, 7:21 pm
Sheila Blake from Washington, DC says:
My 105 year old mom had a good 5 years at PPR before the eviction notice went up. She really didn't want to move, and there wasn't an affordable alternative. Finally, after conditions at PPR became unhealthy and depressing, she agreed to move out. We found her a really sad place, but the only place available where my 73 year old brother could visit and oversee her care, and she lived there for 2 more months until she died at 107. She lived a long good life, but there never should have been this hardship at the end.
Feb. 18, 2016, 8:05 pm
Chip from Brooklyn Heights says:
Our freshman assemblywoman ms simon does not seem so fresh !!
Seniors get abused for years in her district and shes thinking about legislation? Maybe ?
Feb. 19, 2016, 1:49 am
Family Member from Park Slope says:
To Chris from Prospect Heights,

For someone who obviously hasn't been following this complex story very carefully, you sure are quite self-righteous.

The unfortunate conditions described were initiated by the unscrupulous operator of the facility after closure but quickly mitigated by the court and remediated as a result of care by the families of the impacted residents. This took a lot of extra time and extra funds. This was probably a lot more time and care than you may have put into caring for your loved one after you parked them
in that "excellent facility."

The residents who remained and still remain have been well protected by their loved ones, despite the best efforts of the unscrupulous operator and the complicity and incompetence of the Department of Health.

Those families who decided to keep their loved ones in their homes, made that difficult decision because they didn't want to take the chance that those most vulnerable residents, would either die or rapidly decline which was the case with too many who moved out as instructed.
Feb. 19, 2016, 4:22 pm
Family Member from Park Slope says:
Also Chris,

You should count your luck stars that you diverted your loved one when you did because there were unlucky residents who were tricked into moving into the facility, AFTER the operator already initiated eviction plans with the Department of Health.

Those unfortunate residents uprooted their lives and made the very difficult decision to move into a facility, only to be informed a few short months later that they were evicted.

This outrage is currently brought about through the "regulations" of OUR Department of Health because it is taking its instructions from the assisted living lobby in Albany.
Feb. 19, 2016, 4:48 pm

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