By Tamara Laine
Hundreds of senior citizens from across New York City gathered at Gracie Mansion on June 12 to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio uphold his promise to fund senior housing facilities.
Otherwise, they want him evicted.
“Housing is not a political issue, it is a human issue it is a human rights issue,” said Father Mason, pastor of Our Lady of the Participation in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
He and members of his parish traveled to the Mansion by bus, spending hours in traffic.
Currents News was invited to ride on the bus, and spoke to seniors affected by the housing crisis.
“When you look at seniors not safe, not living in properly sized apartments…come on, now let’s address that,” said Carlota Butler, a parishioner Our Lady of the Participation & Mercy.
“Frustrated” and “angry” were just some of the words parishioners like Evie Pacheco used to describe their attitudes towards the situation.
They say the mayor has broken a promise he made one year ago: to budget $500 million for low-income senior housing, something that many think is desperately needed.
Nearly 80,000 seniors currently rely on NYCHA housing, with an estimated 200,000 New Yorkers over the age of 65 living below the poverty line.
This group coming from Brownsville has the highest density of public housing units in the country, making this Issue close to home.
For East Brooklyn Congregations Leader Tita Concepcion, it’s personal.
“I live with the seniors that are going through hard times who struggle to go up the stairs when the elevators are broken,” she said.
“My daughter was assaulted once in these buildings because the doors were not fixed”
“Many of those who trekked here pulled with them suitcases,” she added, saying that if the mayor didn’t allocate funding for these issues, they were going to move into his mansion.
“Mr. Mayor you live in a rodent-free, lead-free, mold free, safe mansion while half a million people are living in dehumanizing conditions.”
Father Mason, who was wildly received by the crowd, said enough is enough.
“We are here today to remind him of that commitment and say ‘Mr. Mayor, step up and fulfill your promise or move out and let some of our seniors live in your nice building,’” he said.
The Mayor’s office has not yet returned our request for comment.
This is just one of the many housing issues affecting New Yorkers. Currents News will continue special coverage on the New York City housing crisis, reporting on developing rent reform legislation in the days to come.