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Residents of Astoria building blindsided by eviction notices, have to be gone in one month

Dec. 12, 2016 By Christian Murray

Nearly 40 residents who live in an Astoria faith-based housing facility received an eviction notice Nov. 28 telling them to vacate their 46th Street building by the end of the year.

The residents, many of whom have lived in the dorm-style rooms for years, were caught completely off guard and many are unsure where they are going to live.

“The letter essentially said get out,” said Lesley Hilton, a Texas native who has lived at the 31-65 46th Street facility for three years. “The way they are trying to do this is so egregious. I want the world to know about awful this is.”

The residents claim that they are being kicked out by the non-profit owner, the New York School of Urban Ministry, to make way for a homeless shelter. They have been circulating a copy of an e-mail that was sent from Urban Ministry’s attorney, Ira S. Clair, to a resident indicating this was the case.

However, the theory that the facility would become a shelter was essentially debunked Saturday.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer received an e-mail from the Department of Homeless Services this morning stating that the facility would not be converted into a shelter. The councilman, who had been in discussions with DHS about the facility for the past week, did confirm that a homeless provider had been in talks with the city to use the building as a shelter.

Nevertheless, Van Bramer said, the pressing issue right now is that there are still close to 40 people who may be thrown out on the street by the end of the year. “That is our focus; to stop this tragedy. My hope is that Urban Ministry will rescind these eviction notices.”

The current occupants of the building—excluding two families who live on the first floor–are all single men and women. The men have individual rooms that are all located on the second floor, while the women’s rooms are on the third floor.

The occupants range in age from 18 to 80 years and are all are Christians.

“You have to apply to get in and show you can support yourself as well as have members of the clergy vouch that you are a Christian,” Hilton said. Hilton is currently doing temp work at the Radio City Music Hall.

Each resident pays a dorm fee that is somewhere between $400 and $500 a month, Hilton said. They don’t have a lease and just pay month to month.

Lesley Hilton in her room

“Evicting these people is wrong,” Van Bramer said. The councilman is hosting a press conference with other elected officials outside Urban Ministry’s facility Monday at 1 pm to hammer home the point.

“These residents received word of this for the first time three days after Thanksgiving and were told that they had to be gone after Christmas,” Van Bramer said. “This is heartless,” he said, especially for a religious organization.

Joyce Katchmar, a senior citizen who has lived in the facility for the past year, is concerned as to where she might go if she is thrown out.

She moved into the facility after a fire tore through her Woodside apartment last year.  “The Red Cross wanted me to go to shelter in Jamaica,” Katchmar said. “Fortunately, my pastor was able to get me in here.”

Linda Smith, originally for Oregon, said that her friends have told her to find affordable accommodation in Jersey City. “I don’t want to leave this community,” she said. “I love this neighborhood; I know all the children and the dogs, I don’t want to go.”

Residents in the living room

The women have been handing out fliers in the area in the past week notifying local business owners and residents that a homeless shelter was likely to open. “People have been very thankful for letting them know,” Smith said.

Van Bramer said that when he had heard from the residents of Urban Ministry that it might become a shelter he started investigating the matter.

He said he reached out to Steven Banks, the Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, to find out more and to explain that it wouldn’t make sense to open a shelter there.

Van Bramer said that he told Banks that many of the current residents could wind up homeless. “It would just defeat the purpose,” he added.

The councilman is confident that DHS will not open a shelter at that location and will be true to its word. “I have it in writing,” he said.

DHS could not be reached for comment.

Van Bramer said he wasn’t sure whether the potential conversion of the space to a shelter was the primary motive for Urban Ministries to start the eviction process on the residents.

He said that only Urban Ministries could answer that. Urban Ministries could not be reached for comment.

Eviction Notice

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Wow.. religion – eviction- more money for the Reverend equals homelessness for those who are living there to possibly open a homeless ?


500 a month, no wonder why they dont want to leave. Right around the corner from 3 bars, where do i get a room ill pay 1000

Astoria Resident

If the owner converts it into a condo, then it will no longer be a tax free building. (And can a group that calls themselves “Urban Ministry” really be considered a religion?) That’s a good thing folks. For every building not paying taxes, some else is paying it.


Well I know how you feel see I was evicted out of my apartment for paying the rent on time .the landlord didn’t feel like fixing the problem in the apartment and the roof had a great big hole. So before thanksgiving she told me to get out. My Grandmother and me we are hady cap .but don’t worry God will provide for you sorry for what you are going through. They are not Christian for real you don’t do this to people they are just doing it for money really hope you guys find a place to live .wow


Wouldn’t it logically make sense that if this is a Christian ministry and they are being evicted that God doesn’t want them to stay there?


I agree with A. Bundy’s comment about building a new condo. However, would a faith based organization scoop so low as to put these residents in turmoil just to advance their goal? Unfortunately the answer is yes. It’s not about what they teach, but more how to further fill their pockets with cash. They are no less than the charlatan evangelists on tv that empty the pockets of the poor promising bigger gains for them.


Another blow to The Gospel by the very people who preach it. Such is the behavior of scoundrels. One wonders if the family of the president of this organization(who just recently passed away and should’ve been investigated for their questionable church finances) asked the executive vice president NOT to proceed with the notice to terminate vacancy until after his death.


It says be out or eviction proceedings will begin. Technically, they will have till end of January, or they will win the fight. Good luck, residents, and I hope your rights get noticed.


There is a protest happening Monday at 1pm, Jimmy Van bramer will be at that location, If you want to make sure no homeless shelter opens up because the Commissioner of DHS is a courpt liar go to 46 street between new town road and Broadway on 46 street….


Sounds like a scheme to build a new condo. I’m sure they will give the residents free apartments. what would jeebuz do?

Home owner

Housing court won’t take these cases because these people aren’t considered tenants because they don’t have a lease. I forget the term but that are basically considered guest. Good to see a non profit dumping people paying a bit of their own money to get new tenants that the city and state will pay more for…

Jen L

Housing Court. Sometimes month-to-month constitutes a lease, and many of these people may have rights.

I have to wonder if the landlords are motivated by more money if they converted to a city-paid shelter. It doesn’t makes sense to make more people homeless for this purpose. Where’s their Christian beliefs in all of this, I have to wonder.


As a former resident of this atrocity, Month to month is incorrect. They have “agreements “which are super flimsy at best to any housing lawyer. Some are only month to month merely because neither party renewed the agreement.


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