Elderly tenants head back to court to fight for fair housing
by Jess Berry
Jul 09, 2014 | 554 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Next week, the elderly tenants of Prospect Park Residence (PPR) will head to court to continue their fight against property owner Haysha Dietsch to halt the closing of the assisted-living home, after unceremoniously being given a 90-day eviction notice in March.

PPR was slated to close in June, but tenants opened a lawsuit in May against the facility and the Department of Health (DOH), which stands by the owner’s decision to close the residence.

Residents sought a preliminary injunction, which would mean that PPR would have to maintain all of its services for residents, keep the home from forcibly transferring any residents and work with residents to identify appropriate alternative housing options.

The court case, which was heard at Kings County Supreme Court from June 17 to June 20, came after residents claimed that services diminished once the eviction notice was given, with cleaning and food services suffering. They also said that PPR was not helpful in providing individual assessments to assist the elderly tenants in finding new homes.

Other complaints had to do with staffing, with residents claiming that their private aides were threatened so they would quit. The defendant agreed that a complaint that a night nurse was no longer on the premises was true, though Dietsch’s lawyer said a nurse was on call if needed.

Justice Wayne Saitta of Kings County Supreme Court heard the case in June, at the close of which point the defendant agreed to the preliminary injunction until the case was to be picked back up again on July 17.

Now residents are preparing to head back to court next Thursday, and some have entirely new worries on their mind.

In the early days of the case, the defendant’s lawyer questioned whether Dietsch would be able to rent out the empty apartments of the 90 residents who did leave their homes after receiving the eviction notice to other interested tenants.

Sandy Reiburn, the daughter of former PPR resident Tina Kruger, said she thought that renting out the apartments to others was a scare tactic on the owner’s part.

She said she thinks the apartments will be rented out “to folks who [the owners] hope, by their unaccounted for presence, will intimidate the vulnerable remaining 30 elders and their families to further panic for their safety and do, in the end, what this monster has wanted all along: to empty the place so construction can begin.”

“Unless the DOH somehow resists this vague and un-legislated protocol, which has never before come up, the parade of strangers entering and occupying the residence is worrying for those that remain and must not be allowed to be permitted,” Reiburn said.
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