PARK SLOPE — The assisted living facility owner who's been trying to kick elderly residents out of his building so it can be turned into luxury condos has finally forked over $3.35 million he was ordered to pay five women who refused to leave, lawyers for the seniors announced Thursday.
After failing to meet a deadline to pay part of the $3.35 million court settlement in July, owner Haysha Deitsch handed over the money on Aug. 26, lawyers for the women said.
"The Legal Aid Society is pleased that through our legal intervention, the landlord finally complied with the settlement making it possible for the brave elderly residents of Prospect Park Residence to relocate to appropriate locations," said Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit of The Legal Aid Society and the lead attorney on the case.
The payment marks a victory for the remaining residents of Prospect Park Residence, who've been battling Deitsch in court since 2014, when he announced that the facility would close and told seniors they had 90 days to leave.
Many of the 140 residents moved out, but several, including a Holocaust survivor and a Tuskegee Airman, refused to leave. Some have since passed away, but five women still remain at the facility, which is on valuable real estate overlooking Grand Army Plaza.
The women agreed to leave by Aug. 31 after Deitsch agreed to the $3.35 million settlement in June. But Deitsch missed a July deadline to pay part of the settlement. In response, the women's lawyers threatened to go after Deitsch's assets, which include property on Fourth Avenue where he plans to build luxury condos.
"The courageous seniors of the Prospect Park Residence stood up for two-and-a-half years in the face of Haysha Deitsch's appalling avarice and cowardice," said City Councilman Brad Lander. "After months of Deitsch's typical greedy efforts to make even more money without regard for the cost to our seniors, we are relieved that he has finally complied."
Representatives for Deitsch did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Though the legal battle between the remaining residents and Deitsch is over, lawyers for the elderly residents said they'll continue their lawsuit against the state Department of Health, which oversees the facility and approved Deitsch's plan to close it.
"While this is a good day for the remaining PPR residents, it remains deeply disappointing that that the NYS Department of Health gave no support or protection to 130 elderly New Yorkers, whose health was put at risk by a developer who chose to willfully close this assisted living program and evict seniors without notice just to make a buck through condo-conversion," Lander said. "New York needs better public policy to protect our seniors from greed."