Why we had to leave our Manhattan Plaza home.

The short version . . .

This edited synopsis is taken from a longer expose entitled:

How an Arbitrary and Overreaching Ruling by HPD
compelled us to vacate our home in Manhattan Plaza

by Bo Metzler

Read the full PDF version HERE

When is your home NOT your home?
When you live in a subsidized apartment, in Manhattan Plaza, in New York City.

 After 30+ years, 2 marriages, raising a son, making a home, succeeding at a career, publishing an award winning book, cultivating life long friendships, and feeling safe, secure and eternally grateful for the countless hours of comfort and solitude,
my family was inhumanely forced to leave our home – the only real “home” my son has known – by a heartless and
overreaching housing bureaucracy. And no one had the ethical temerity to say, “Stop. This isn't right!”

     Manhattan Plaza is a Federally subsidized housing complex under the HUD Section-8 Program. It is administered by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) under the Mitchell-Lama Housing Regulations.
     You have to qualify to live there. There is a waiting list. Your rent is based on a percentage of your income up to a ceiling amount. Once you are "in" you have to "re-certify" every year and have your rent adjusted according to your income. There are countless rules and regulations set down by HUD, by HPD and by Manhattan Plaza owners and management. The yearly paperwork is a nightmare, and although some couldn't deal with it, for most it is a small price to pay for living within your means.

     I have been living in Manhattan Plaza since 1978. My son, Alex was born there in 1984 and 3 years later we moved from our one bedroom to our two bedroom apartment. It was really the only home Alex has ever known.

     Flash forward to 2008 when Alex, at age 24, moved out  to live with his, then, girlfriend. According to HUD regulations he had to go off the lease because he wasn't living in Manhattan Plaza anymore. One ramification of his moving out, was that my wife and I were then considered "under-occupied" in our two bedroom (you're required to have a minimum of 3 people in a two bedroom.) We knew this and were prepared for the possibly of having to move into a one bedroom.  We were also beginning to talk about the feasibility of moving to the Philippines where my wife is from. I was retired from my stagehand work due to an accident in 2006, so there was no employment reason to stay in New York. And there were some family issues in the Philippines that required my wife to be there. We did, however, want Cecile to get her U.S. Citizenship and had begun the lengthy  paperwork and waiting process.
     So,  we began to make tentative plans to move sometime in early 2010 when we believed citizenship would be achieved so that traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Philippines would be easier for my wife.

      Around June of 2009 (I think) I got a call from Manhattan Plaza management, who informed us we would be required to "move down" to the one bedroom. I explained  that we were planning to move out all together in February or March of 2010, could we just postpone this move down - instead of moving down then moving out?  I wrote a letter to the Director of Operations, Richard Hunnings and explain my situation and ask to be able to remain in our apartment until we moved out. I didn't hear anything back, so I assumed we were good until our plans to move out took final shape and we would be giving our notice.
      You know what they say about the "best laid plans...."

      Sometime in October 2009, Alex  informed me that he and his girlfriend were on the verge of breaking up.  My first thought, aside from being sad for him, was that he was going to move back home.  He was not in a rush; he was going to try and salvage the relationship; and he was going to spend time bunking at his friends apartment. He didn't want to do a big move back home until he was sure the relationship was over. I understood.
     And a move back home would effect the plans for my wife and I to move to the Philippines - maybe.
     Thanksgiving came. We threw a big Turkey Dinner extravaganza for my family who all came to New York from Ohio, Arizona and even from California. It was to be our last Thanksgiving together before Cecile and I moved to the Philippines. This year it was also when Alex informed us that, after he took his usual Christmas trip to Japan to see his mother and brother, he would, indeed, be moving back home. The relationship with his girlfriend was definitely over.
     Now what to do?
     Well the first thing was to get him back on the lease. Just prior to his going away for the holidays, we did the paperwork and interview (yes, an interview - to determine if it was "OK" to "let" him back on the lease and back into his home). When he came back from Japan, we moved his stuff and he moved back home in early January.
     And that was the beginning of three months of craziness that culminated in our having no choice but to give up and move out of the only home my son had known.
     I had never been through this kind of bureaucratic nightmare before. Even when I was the President of the Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association, I never experienced what I experienced at the hands of Manhattan Plaza management and HPD.

     It all began when we informed Management that Alex would be taking over the apartment when my wife and I moved to the Philippines.  Management said that this was not going to happen. There was an HPD/Mitchell-Lama rule that said you have to be living in the apartment for 2 years prior to becoming the head-of-household.
    We tried to get this waived in our case - but HPD didn't grant the waiver.
Essentially I would have to stay on the lease for 2 years until my son qualified to succeed as head-of-household.  This meant that my wife would have to move to the Philippines on her own and I would have to become a frequent flyer. This sucked but it was what we needed to do to save Alex's home.
    Coincidentally to all of this was the fact that Alex's friend's were loosing their apartment. Their lease was up and one of the roommates was not going to stay. The remaining roommates couldn't afford the rent.  So we made an application at Manhattan Plaza for the friends to move in with Alex and I as roommates because he would need 3 or more roommates to keep the 2 bedroom, after the 2 year waiting period and I moved out.
    Then the final severe cataclysmic blow -- HPD ruled against our roommate application! They made a wild and bogus claim that they were unsure of my continued presence in the apartment. This was so wrong on at least two main points. There is a "Roommate/Spouse Policy" at Manhattan Plaza which guarantees that tenants can add roommates to avoid being "under-occupied." And, as the current head-of-household" I had the right to have roommates move in. Then there was the preposterous hypothetical supposition that I "might" not be actually living in the apartment. Since my wife was moving to the Philippines, Management had "decided," and inferred to HPD, that they were "sure" I was going to go with her as we had planned - as I had originally told them. But they also knew that I had to stay in the apartment for 2 year so Alex could qualify and was prepared to travel back and forth to accomplish this. I had only to be in Manhattan Plaza for 6 months plus 1 day to continue to qualify to remain as head-of-household. They completely ignored all the facts and just "guessed" that I might not be complying with the regulations and ruled against our roommate application based on their crystal ball "theory."
    Preposterous, outrageous, totally bogus and a direct violation of our rights. And their ruling was handed down the day before we were scheduled to go to the Philippines. (I was going with my wife for several weeks to get her settled and then returning to New York.)
    We had no time to appeal.
    The friends lease was up in 4 days and they would be homeless. Alex and I couldn't stay in the apartment anyway - with just the two of us. We'd have to move into a one bedroom. So we made the only choice we could in the time frame with our backs against the wall and the friends home in the balance -- we gave notice at Manhattan Plaza. Alex moved into the friend's apartment to save their home and he had to put all of our life into storage. He also had to pack and ship my stuff to the Philippines. (I had only packed 2 suitcases - because I was planning to return.)

And that, my friend, is the short version of how we were forced to give up our home in Manhattan Plaza.

If you want to read the whole story - complete with all of the meetings and conversations and emails and letters, as well as all of the condescending attitude from Management and the despicable effort to do everything against the actual facts of the situation -- click HERE.

And believe me - you will be amazed at what you will read.

If you want to help us get our home back - write to me: bometzler@gmail.com

Read the full PDF version HERE

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