Elderly woman fighting eviction after 50 years in Little Italy apartment

LITTLE ITALY (WABC) -- An 85-year old woman is facing eviction from her apartment in Little Italy. She has lived at her Grand Street home for more than 50 years.

Her rent: $820 a month. But the landlord, a museum, wants her to pay more than four times that much.

The property in question is on the corner of Grand and Mulberry. The Italian-American museum apparently wants to expand, but the tenant, Adele Sarno, sees it differently.

"You don't throw old people in the street. Not only me, but for anybody that's old," she said.

So Adele is standing her ground, not leaving her second floor apartment above the Italian-American Museum without a fight.

"He wanted me to get out right away," she said. "How could you get out right away, you need at least a couple of months? That's why I went back to court," she said.

Visible work is already being undertaken here, where Adele has been paying rent for over 50 years.

She believes her apartment was rent controlled, but a civil court judge and the State Department of Housing Renewal did not agree, and the landlord sent her an eviction notice to be out by April 6th.

In a statement, the landlord says, "Governed by these orders, the museum will pursue its plans for expansion, and continue to serve as an anchor institution for the Italian-American legacy in Little Italy.

"Evicting an 85-year old woman who was born and raised in the neighborhood, living in that apartment for decades because of a ridiculous court decision makes no sense," one community resident said.

Members of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and other community groups came together to denounce the eviction and the much larger issue of displacing older residents.

"Is this the kind of legacy that this community wants to leave behind? That we take our older people that built this neighborhood, who have fought for it and we say we don't need you any more? This has got to stop," said community resident Damaris Reyes.

Adele, who thanked the crowd for their support, and her attorney go back to court April 2nd, where she now hopes she can be granted one simple wish.

"I'm going to be 86 in August. If I'm going to die, let me die here," she said.

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