THE ITALIAN-AMERICAN MUSEUM SET TO EVICT ONE OF LITTLE ITALY’S OLDEST LIVING RESIDENTS OVER RENT DISPUTE
Update 03/27/15: there is some speculation as to whether or not Adele Sarno has a second apartment in the area. We can assure you that Ms. Sarno's sole residence is the apartment she occupies at 185 Grand Street.
MARCH 24, 2105
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Victor Papa
Office: (212) 566-2729 | (917) 881-5008
Adele Sarno, one of Little Italy’s oldest living residents at 85 years old, is facing immediate eviction from her Grand Street apartment by her landlord, the Italian-American Museum (IAM). A warrant for Ms. Sarno's eviction has been issued and it is highly likely she will be forcefully moved from the apartment by the end of this week.
Ms. Sarno claims she has lived in the apartment for the past 53 years. Four years ago, she reached out to Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (TBNC) for legal assistance in hopes of remaining in her apartment at 185 Grand Street, which the museum contends is not rent-controlled. After review by the NYS Dept. of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the agency determined that the apartment is not regulated, making Mrs. Sarno subject to market rate rent rates, which she can hardly afford.
Ms. Sarno lives on an incredibly modest, fixed income: with only her monthly social security and a little help from her daughter (who lives in Wisconsin), she is just barely able to pay the museum the $820.00 she is currently charged per month for rent.
Ms. Sarno claims that she has been a resident of 185 Grand Street since 1962, acquiring all the rights to the rent-controlled apartment upon the death of her father in 1976. In spite of the fact that other apartments have rent-control status within the adjoining museum-owned buildings, Ms. Sarno’s apartment, but for a bureaucratic technicality, does not. Having exhausted all legal avenues, marshals are set to forcibly evict Ms. Sarno from her apartment at the end of this week.
On Wednesday, March 25th at 11:00AM, local advocacy organizations CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and others will gather to stand alongside Ms. Sarno in front of the museum (185 Grand Street, NY, NY). Together we will express our collective outrage and disappointment, and demand the leadership of IAM reconsider Ms. Sarno's impending eviction. We invite members of the press to join us.
“Two Bridges believes that the review by DHCR to indicate whether it is or it is not a rent-controlled apartment is really not the crux of the matter. For an institution that purports to promote and preserve Italian-American culture, the museum fails profoundly in recognizing that among its most valuable assets are the long-term residents of the neighborhood,” said Victor Papa, President/Director of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council.
“We are not going to besmirch the mission of the Italian-American Museum as it is stated, nor the donors who generously support that mission; nor will we besmirch the State Education Department which gave academic sanction to that mission. But Ms. Sarno’s continued occupancy as one of Little Italy’s oldest residents is also a mission. Many of the circumstances of her case bear too-close-for-comfort characteristics of those that community-based housing organizations readily recognize: vulnerable citizens being ousted by speculative landlords and developers abounding in Little Italy, Chinatown and the greater Lower East Side.”