The Fight for Adele Sarno

L. R. Laverde-HansenStarred Page By L. R. Laverde-Hansen, 2nd Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/qyrxs7_t/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Last week was a court hearing for Adele Sarno, an 85-year old Italian-American grandmother, who is in danger of losing her New York apartment.

A Hearing Downtown

Last Thursday, I went to downtown Manhattan for a special hearing at court. It was regarding the housing status of an 85-year-old grandmother named Adele Sarno. She lives in a walk-up apartment on Grand Street in New York's Little Italy in Manhattan. She's been there since 1962.

Her current landlord wants to evict her. It claims that it is only raising the rent in accordance with its rights, but the effect is to make her place unaffordable. The landlord's attorney said as much at the hearing: that Adele is not entitled to any special considerations of the law. The irony is that her landlord is the Italian American Museum, and it wants to expand its space. And Adele Sarno is a living example of the Italian-American experience in New York.

Family, friends and supporters came to the hearing at Centre Street (pictured) and waited for our turn. The Honorable Jack Stoller presided over the proceedings. Norman Siegel, the former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, presented himself as a friend of the court. Though Siegel is currently in private practice, he still lends his considerable talents and connections for worthy causes.

I could not hear exactly the interchange between the judge and the lawyers, but it was decided with the arrival of new lawyers to schedule a new hearing, so that they could get up to speed with the case. They would reconvene on Monday, April 13th. This alone was a small victory: Adele would have a chance to really make her case.

The People

One of the most moving developments here was to see a whole group of people, who would only be together period period.

I came through the efforts of Frank Mosco (pictured in center), an activist whom I have known since High School. He came to know about via a group called #SaveNYC. #SaveNYC spends a lot of time publicizing the causes of small businesses and tenants who are often being shoved aside to make way for large out-of-town commercial interests. Also involved was Selena Couloufacos (on the far left), a friend who was coordinating much of the activities on our side.

It was documentary filmmaker, journalist and activist Sandi Bachom who has also brought this case to peoples' attention. Her videos and stories have helped light the spark to bring us where we are today.

Media Coverage

One of the fascinating developments here is how the news media has been attracted to Adele Sarno's story. After her hearing ended last Thursday, camera crews representing the local WCBS and WNBC affiliates in New York filmed her reaction. WCBS anchor and reporter Cindy Hsu (pictured) interviewed Adele, her granddaughter, Vitina, and Frank Mosco.

Then this story was carried on the Associated Press wire. After googling it, I came across a copy of it printed on the Machester Guardian's website. No question, this litter matter of an eviction has become an international event.

What should not be forgotten

While all the activism and energy was very heartening, the most important important thing to remember here is the status of Adele herself. All she wants is to spend her remaining days in the home she has lived in most of her life. She could move in with her relatives, but that is not the same as the place she knows.

There is something powerful about the concept of home. For too many lifelong residents of the City of New York, that concept--especially the reality of it--is being threatened by commercial interests who really do not care about the communities that have spent generations building something special and unique: a place where people live. Too often, New York is seen as a real-estate goldmine, where the very wealthy vie to get bits of it, not to live, but to showcase it as just another trophy of theirs.

People like Adele Sarno remind you of the very real, very vital city that should not simply be taken away.

Composed in New York
April 2- 8, 2015

Tags

Eviction, Greed, Housing, New York, Norman Siegel, Save New York

Meet the author

author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
Poet, playwright, commentator. I write wherever I can. Currently I reside in the City of New York.

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Comments

author avatar Steve Kinsman
8th Apr 2015 (#)

Great article L. R. In San Francisco, people are being displaced by the thousands as Silicon Valley millionaires move north, where they board company buses every day to commute to the San Jose area. Real estate prices are through the roof because of it, and none but the wealthy can afford to live there any more.

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
8th Apr 2015 (#)

Wow-Steve! Thank you. It sounds like they're doing this everywhere. Funny how so many people with money once ignored the cities altogether. Now they just want to kick every one else out.

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author avatar Mariah
8th Apr 2015 (#)

Good luck to Adele..you so have to admire her resolve.
Really good post highlighting her story LR

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
8th Apr 2015 (#)

Thank you, Mariah. We will get the good word out there. See where it goes.

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author avatar Selena Couloufacos
8th Apr 2015 (#)

I have to thank you so very much for writing this - it means so much to Adele, her daughter and extended families, Frank Mosco, Sandi Bachum and me that would take the time to do this. For those who are interested in joining this fight - please like our Facebook page "We've Got Your Back Adele Sarno" - thank you and spread the word!

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
8th Apr 2015 (#)

I approve this message.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
10th Apr 2015 (#)

If Adele is removed from her home L.R. then I pray she will be given a beautiful apartment in a lovely district where no-one will oust her again .... ( at the cost of the rich corporations who want her home )
That's my prayer , and I am sticking to it ...amen
Many blessings
Stella ><

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
10th Apr 2015 (#)

Thank you, Stella. As always.

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author avatar Retired
11th Apr 2015 (#)

She is very brave

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
11th Apr 2015 (#)

Thank you, David.

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