Ortiz v. NYCHA: Caregiver Daughter Wins Right to Remain in Mom’s NYCHA Apartment

June 4, 2014

A legal decision was published in the New York Law Journal today that should be of interest to those of us who work to help keep seniors living safely in their homes.

In the case, Ortiz v. NYCHA, the daughter of a Manhattan public-housing resident with Alzheimer’s Disease moved up from Florida to move in with and care for her mother. For years her mother repeatedly asked the housing authority for permission to permanently add her daughter to the household composition, but the housing authority refused. The housing authority repeatedly granted only temporary permission, because, they said, the presence of two people in the woman’s studio apartment constituted overcrowding. When the tenant died and her daughter sought the right to remain in the apartment as a "remaining family member," the housing authority denied the daughter’s request on the ground that her mother had never received permission to permanently add her to the household composition.

The New York State Supreme Court overturned the housing authority hearing officer’s decision, noting that the housing authority had gotten things exactly backwards. The authority, the judge said, had been required first to grant permission to add the daughter to the household permanently, and then, second, address the problem of overcrowding in the apartment by inviting the family to request a transfer to a larger unit. Instead, the authority put the family in an impossible "catch-22" position.