Displacement of elderly on Wason Ave.

Mr. G., age 79, has owned and occupied his home at __ Wason Avenue since 1933. His wife, age 84, is suffering from hardening of the arteries in addition to slowly loosing her mental faculties.

Last Friday, 3/20/70, he received the standard form letter from Real Estate which states the house had been appraised by two independent appraisers, a fair market price set, HUD’s price sent to New York, and the concurrence on it received. Yet, there is no mention of just what the man is to receive for his home, only a request that he come to our Real Estate Dept. as soon as possible.

Unintentional as this might have been, in this case, and likely in others similar to it, the effect was severely jarring and anxiety producing. From the viewpoint of this resident, this letter tells him that his home is as good as gone and he’d better hurry and find out what the decision on it was.

The impact was physically apparent on Mr. G’s face and in his general nervousness. What taken to State Street by Mrs. Masie Ingram, he admitted that he “felt like a little boy.” He does not know what he will do. Present rental rates frighten him and purchasing a home at his age seems impossible.

After leaving Mr. G, Mrs. Ingram stopped in to see Mrs. E who has been living in her home at __ Wason Avenue for 20 years. Mrs. E had been in our Real Estate  Dept. that very morning. Never before had her age been more apparent. Her vivaciousness changed literally overnight, and she became a nervous, crying 70 year old woman. She feels that she did not get enough money, but also feels helpless. She presumed that there would be no controversy in negotiating [house price].

Research and face to face experience has proven in case after case that this group of people, that is the elderly, stand the least to gain from Urban Renewal. In fact, it is usually a final strike which leaves them lonely and broken in a society that has already relegated them to uselessness because of age.

I cannot offer any sure-fire solutions to this problem, but I think that there has to be an extra measure of personal and economic consideration in dealing with this group of people in order to minimize anxiety and hardship. They don’t have much. What little they do have we often take away.

Simon Mielniczuk, Relocation Interviewer, Springfield Redevelopment Authority

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About mielniczuk

Community, systems, design, collaboration, change, evidence, Intelligent Accountability(c)
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