Friday, December 16, 2016

Lifelong Resident In NYCHA-Managed Complex Faces The Boot Over Late Mom's Failure To Add Her To Lease Records; Housing Authority Temporarily Backs Off Bullying Removal Efforts After Being Met With Legal Action, Media Attention On Behalf Of Victim

In East New York, Brooklyn, the New York Daily News reports:
  • [Leatha] Harper, 20, is facing eviction from the only home she has ever known because her mother — who died last April — never listed Leatha’s name on the apartment’s family composition records kept on file by the [New York City] Housing Authority.

    As a result, NYCHA has summarily ruled that she has no right to remain in the East New York apartment — without even examining the more than 200 pages of documents showing that since 1996 she was raised there by Shirley Harper, whom Leatha affectionately called “Nana.” Shirley Harper legally adopted Leatha when she was 4.

    I have all the papers showing that I was here since I was a newborn,” Harper told the Daily News on Wednesday. “It really bothers me that they don’t understand the situation. It doesn’t make sense.”

    Leatha, on her own, appeared at hearings presided over by Samuel Bamiro, the housing project’s manager, and borough director Denise Brockington, who both said that she did not convince them of her longtime residency, according to court papers.

    After lawyer Jason Vendzules of Brooklyn Legal Services(1) took on her case, he amassed more than 200 pages of records from the Administration for Children’s Services, schools, hospitals, court and even the local pharmacy showing her continuing residence at the apartment.

    But NYCHA bureaucrats refused to grant her a new hearing and told Vendzules to take Harper’s beef to court.

    “They’re incapable of getting out beyond their paperwork to figure this out,” Vendzules said.

    So he took them up on their challenge and has filed a petition in Manhattan Supreme Court against NYCHA and its chairwoman, Shola Olatoye, to overturn the agency’s decision.

    After a Daily News inquiry, NYCHA spokeswoman Zodet Negron said, “We understand Ms. Harper’s personal connection to this apartment. She is able to remain living in the apartment as NYCHA reviews the circumstances of her case.”

    Harper is the youngest of four girls raised by Shirley Harper — two biological daughters and two foster children — in the apartment where she had resided since 1971. When baby Leatha was placed with her in foster care in 1996, Shirley’s daughters were adults and had moved out on their own.
For more, see Life-long resident at Brooklyn NYCHA home faces eviction because her late mother never added her name to list.
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(1) Brooklyn Legal Services is a part of Legal Services NYC, a non-profit organization providing legal services to low-income residents throughout New York City.

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