Man living in tent alarms neighbors

October 13, 2009 3:51:50 PM PDT
Some residents in Queens are outraged over a neighbor's bizarre behavior. That neighbor has lived in a tent, bathes outside and walks around partially naked. But so far, residents and authorities can't seem to force him to cover up.Romanian immigrant Mircea Fersedy, 61, has lived in the cluttered tent since April, two months after the city officials tossed him out of his home on 37th Street in Astoria because they deemed it structurally unsafe.

"The tent is an attempt to survive," the former pharmacist said. "After homelessness, I'm trying to survive. I paid a mortgage for 25 years, now I'm a beggar. I'm homeless. I lived in the subway and the airports for two months. Then I had the idea for a tent."

The building was boarded up in April. Federly then came up with the idea to put a tent in the backyard. He says he's going to stay here until it's just too cold for him to sleep outside.

But to some residents in the neighborhood, one man's survival is another man's nuisance.

"He walks around half naked," neighbor Angela Mancuso said. "He must be using this as a toilet bowl. It's really disgusting,"

Angry neighbors claim Fersedy bathes in a stairwell using a hose, relieves himself in the yard, plays his radio all night and walks around half-naked. They're also concerned about electrical wires running into his tent, as well as his hot plate.

Neighbors are also incensed over the dilapidated state of the six-family home.

"Homeless people stroll in there," Mancuso said. "There is human feces in the front stairwell. There's garbage everywhere."

"The man in the back is giving him electric, water, they're giving him everything," Catherine Mancuso said. "He's got cable TV. He's got a computer back there. I've done everything. I call 311 constantly. They tell me there's nothing they can do."

"All we're asking for is for the city to come in and clean up the property," Angela Mancuso said. "How would you feel living next to a tent?"

"We tried to send social services," City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., said. "He kicked them out. Then he put up the tent. This is a very sad story about a troubled man."

But Fersedy, who uses a walker, makes no apologies.

"They tell despicable lies because they want my property," he said. "This is my home. I pay my taxes. I'm not doing anything to anyone."

Fersedy denied he showers or relieves himself in the yard. He said a kind neighbor lets him use his bathroom.

"I'm a civilized person," said Fersedy, who has to jump a fence to get access to his yard and the tent.

Fersedy said he is frustrated that the city shuttered his home.

"All they do is give me false violations," said Fersedy, who racked up $211,079 in Environmental Control Board violations in the last year. "I have no savings. I can't pay for all this."

Fersedy moved to the United States in 1979, but had to give up his pharmacy trade. He lived in the building with his parents, his wife and his children. The family rented the other apartments, but after his 1982 divorce, he said, he lost touch with his children and his parents died, leaving him alone. As the building fell into disrepair, tenants dried up.

Fersedy, who has diabetes and has had a stroke and heart attack in the last few years, has declined social services, saying, "I don't need that kind of help. I need my rights back. I need to get into my home and fix it."

He said he plans to live in the terminals at Kennedy Airport once it gets too cold for his tent.

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