Elder Advocacy

Elder Advocacy by 39 And Holding Club owner, LinDee Rochelle.
A real life experience, plus links for Elders and their advocates to help navigate the waves of Senior life. This is a living page, established May 28, 2024; last updated: 05/28/24.

Is it Elder Abuse or just repugnant Abuse of Power? 

Short introduction to the cause behind this page:   

It begins with a personal experience of what would seem a simple matter of extensive apartment renovations. However, throughout the process, Seniors and citizens dealing with disabilities, are losing precious days of their lives and what health they have being sabotaged—all in the name of “business.”  

Or are we (there are 200+ affected in my apartment building) just “lucky” with our particular brand of apartment building owners? Is this abhorrent practice happening elsewhere? Skirting the legal definition of elder abuse doesn’t make it okay and amounts to Opaque Elder Abuse.

Mini case description:

  • Picture a 14-story (approx. 8-10 units per floor) apartment building comprised of 198 HUD-subsidized apartments for low-income Seniors (62+ to 100 years old) and disadvantaged with disabilities.
  • Apartment building owners (a group—subsequently referred to as ABO) chose to renovate the 48-year-old building (not the first time it’s been done) inside and out, in a top floor-to-bottom-floor major renovation project.
    • It is stated in a memo that it is mandatory for ALL residents to completely move out of their homes; their belongings must be boxed and ready to store on-property. “Please be assured that we will make every effort for this to be as stress-free as possible. … a Relocation Coordinator will be on site to help you every step of the way.” (Rec’d memo August 31, 2023.)
    • I am on the 13th floor (yes, the building actually has superstition linked with it!) and the second floor to struggle with the move-out / move-in experience.
    • For myself, in February 2024, I was dancing during my son’s wedding reception, with no major aches or pains. My move-out was scheduled for April 17 to return on April 26th.
      • Shortly after my son’s wedding, I began packing, lifting 40-50# boxes, moving them around the small studio apartment to allow maneuvering.
      • For a 75-year-old woman, the stress, strain, and physical exertion proved to be devastating. When I asked the “Relocation Coordinator” for assistance, she suggested I enlist the help of friends and relatives … seriously?!
        • This was NOT my project—it was THEIR mandate—and that was their way of handling it. I was NOT about to ask friends and relatives—all of whom have jobs—to spend their vacation or personal days, or even day-off weekends, to assist in a BUSINESS PROJECT, not of my choice.
        • By the time I moved out, I was shaky, my health and energy were flagging, and my left hip was so painful, I could barely walk.
        • And then, I had to move back in … again, lifting, unpacking, etc.
        • I continue to experience pain in my hip (and knee) and am (as of this writing) waiting for x-ray results.
        • In conversation with several other residents of the building, I learned I am not the only one to experience deteriorating health because of this move.
    • Upon return to our apartments—14th and 13th floors—there was an “inspection” of “randomly selected apartments” with “a representative from Berkadia” (though I knew mine would not be chosen because I am too outspoken), like we’re supposed to know who they are, coming into our homes. No explanatory text was included in the memo:  
      • per Wiki—Berkadia Commercial Mortgage (50/50 joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway) - commercial mortgage banking, investment sales and servicing. They are owned by an American financial services company, “Jefferies Group (100%) - investment banking & capital markets” based in New York City and listed as a Fortune 1000 company (w/7000+ employees; 2023).

Primary questions: Is Berkadia looking to buy out ABO, or add them to their current roster of companies, or buy this building and move its holdings to one of theirs? Regardless, their inspection spoke to the bottom line of why we had to endure such life-altering pain at advanced ages, already short on our two most valuable assets to elders: energy and “time”.

For them, it’s a win-win: ABO keeps their properties maintained for business ventures, while getting full market value for them, with HUD subsidies. Being a government bureaucracy, HUD believes they’re doing a service for low-income seniors. Sure, they are—if you just consider senior citizens proverbial “numbers” in your projects. We’re not numbers—we’re living, breathing, loving, family and community members, and plain folks just trying to have “a little life.”  

Please click here: Opaque Elder Abuse for the whole story of how apartment building owners are cutting short the lives of their Senior Citizen tenants, with complete approval from HUD.

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Researched, lived, and written, by LinDee Rochelle 

@BlastFromPastBk (Blast from Your Past books & blog)