NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Imagine the surprise and dismay of a disabled woman, confined to a wheelchair, when she was told that she would have to move to a smaller apartment to keep her housing subsidy.
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported exclusively, city officials changed their position after speaking to CBS 2.
Sue Strong had to have a spirit matching her last name, in order to stave off what she saw as a sort of eviction.
“They don’t call it that, but that’s what the end result would be,” Strong said.
Strong, 65, has been a quadriplegic since a car accident at the age of 22. For the last 36 years, she has lived in a building at Second Avenue and 28th Street in Kips Bay.
Her current rent of $4,000 per month is largely paid for by Section 8 federal subsidies.
But the problem is that last week Strong was notified that because she is the only person in the two-bedroom apartment, she would need to move to a studio.
The letter said she was “overhoused.” But because of her wheelchair, its charger, hospital bed and mechanical lift, respirator and suction equipment, as well as 24-hour nursing, she said moving was not reasonable.
“It would turn my life upside down,” Strong said. “It would make my waking hours hell.”
The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development said federal cutbacks forced it to move some tenants into less expensive quarters. But, after CBS 2 brought the problem to its attention, the department changed course.
“Ms. Strong’s medical condition clearly warrants special consideration…and as soon as we receive the paperwork from her physician we can begin to process Ms. Strong’s request,” said HPD spokesman Eric Bederman.
And as it turned out, the gathering cloud has a silver lining. It appears Strong can stay after all.
The sequester cuts by Congress last year eliminated $35 million from the HPD Section 8 budget. So far, the department has approved more than 140 requests for reasonable accommodations.
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