Local politicians and community members are protesting the New York City Housing Authority's attempt to "downsize" a 91-year-old World War II vet from his home of more than 60 years.
Ralph Calinda is fighting to stay in his apartment at the Pomonok Houses in Flushing, Queens. The Housing Authority's downsizing plan tries to move elderly people who no longer need large apartments into smaller spaces.
"I'm 91 years old. All my friends, all I know is right here," said Calinda.
Councilman Rory Lancman said, "People aren't furniture. Someone like Mr. Calinda, who's lived here for 60 years, who's 91 years old, he can't be moved around, just put on a truck and moved to another apartment.
Neighbors and officials say Calinda is a model tenant and has served his development as a prize-winning gardener.
NYCHA's downsizing plan is designed to accommodate families on the waiting list, whose higher rent payments could help make up for some of the money that was lost in federal budget cuts two years ago.
The agency has said in the past: "We are trying our best to keep all of our existing tenants housed. Given the magnitude of these cuts we’ve been forced to implement measures that will help stretch our remaining budget so that nobody loses their Section 8 benefit today."
At a recent hearing, NYCHA admitted its downsizing policy had some flaws. Many lawmakers are calling for the agency to end it until the policy is properly appraised.