A pair of elderly Kew Gardens residents who survived World War II in their native Ukraine are facing possible eviction, as the owner of the co-operative building they live in wants to charge more in rent, according to the Legal Aid Society.
Sateesh Nori, the attorney in charge of the Legal Aid Society’s Queens office, says the two people — an 89-year-old great-grandmother Nellya and a 93-year-old Ukrainian Air Force veteran named Soloman — pay rent because they’ve been there since before the building was co-oped.
Because they pay less than $1,500 in rent with the help of Section 8 vouchers in a neighborhood where rents approach or exceed $2,000, Nori said, the landlord, Forest & Gardens Owners, started the eviction process more than two years ago.
But the housing cases stalled while Nellya and Soloman, whose last names were asked to be withheld, had guardians to handle their legal defense, finances and other aspects of life appointed to them.
Soloman has significant health problems that hampers his ability to represent himself in court, Nori said, while Nellya has been bedridden for about two years.
“Now that the eviction case is no longer on hold, their guardians contacted us saying, ‘we need your help,’” Nori said. “We’ve since looked back into the original court case and found numerous errors in the landlord’s legal argument.”
Nori added that Forest & Gardens Owners has failed to submit a lease renewal for the elderly residents, endangering their Section 8 vouchers.
“Maybe with some media attention, we can convince the landlord to reconsider,” he said. “We’re hoping that even if these judges don’t see things in the right light, we can appeal and prolong the amount of time they can stay in their homes.
“They’re aware, though,” he added of the residents, who don’t speak English. “What they’ve said to us through their translator is, ‘Why do you want us to leave? What have we done wrong?’”
Nori said the Legal Aid Society had no reason to believe the landlord has preyed on residents before, as the group has “never heard of them.”
Forest & Gardens Owners could not immediately be reached for comment by press time.