This article is part one of Crisis in New York, a series examining the effects public policies have on the city’s already strained housing, law enforcement and drug services.
(Fox News) Frank Tammaro, a 94-year-old Army veteran, loved the senior center he’d called home for five years until he was told to find somewhere new to live.
“I felt horrible,” Tammaro told Fox News. “It’s no joke getting thrown out of a house.”
Months later, after two moves and an injury that put him in the hospital, the senior was living with his daughter when he learned migrants were moving into his old residence, free of charge.
A lifelong New Yorker, Tammaro says he grew up in the “slums” of the Lower East Side during the ‘30s and ’40s.
“I do get upset when I see them handing out all this money and all these things, and I’m paying taxes and getting kicked out,” he said. “I’ve never got anything from the city. Or the state.”
Tammaro planned to live out his years at the Island Shores Senior Residence when notices went up last September informing residents the facility was shutting down and they needed to pack up and leave by March. Many of the 53 seniors living there, including Tammaro, ignored the letters for months until it was brought to their attention that they only had weeks to find somewhere else to live.
“It was scary,” Tammaro recalled. “Very scary. Especially when I don’t get around like I used to. I didn’t know where I was going.”
The facility’s owner, a New York City nonprofit called Homes for the Homeless, said in a statement that it intended to sell Island Shores “to focus on its core mission of serving homeless families” and the preferred buyer “would be another senior operator.”
Staff assured the upset seniors that Island Shores would likely be sold and reopened. However, Tammaro’s daughter, Barbara Annunziata, was skeptical of the claim and reached out to the building’s management for answers.
“We knew something was going to go in there,” Annunziata said. “They kept saying, ‘oh, they’re going to sell it. They’re going to sell it.’ That’s what they kept telling me.”
During the Korean War, Tammaro served stateside for two years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps fixing telephone lines and improving communication between military camps. He was one of eight veterans who lived in Island Shores before it shut down.
“I was not in combat,” Tammaro said. “But these boys that went over and went into combat — and now they’re all settled in there with their lives and everything else — and they’re all disrupted, it isn’t fair.”
When he was evicted from Island Shores, the 94-year-old had difficulty finding a new assisted living facility that suited his needs.
“I was pretty slow getting out,” Tammaro said. “I figured they were gonna have my luggage on the curb.”
Shortly after moving to another senior residence, Tammaro had a fall that landed him in the hospital. He told his daughter he didn’t want to return to the new facility.
“He hated it there,” Annunziata said. “And for somebody his age, why should he live the rest of his life someplace he didn’t like?”
In the end, Annunziata moved her father into her home in Midland Beach, New York, where she cares for him around the clock.
“I can’t leave him home alone. … I raised my kids already. They’re all grown-up,” she said. “I mean, he’s a piece of cake, but still he’s 94-years-old.”
In August, Tammaro found out along with the rest of the community that Homes for the Homeless had made an arrangement with city hall to move migrants into Island Shores.
The facility was one of 200 buildings converted into emergency shelters to house some of the 130,000 migrants that landed in New York City after crossing the southern bordersince October 2022.
The influx of asylum seekers has stretched the city’s budget and many of its services to their limits, with Mayor Eric Adams saying they are in “a desperate environment” during his trip to Mexico in October. And with 10,000 new refugees entering the city each month, he said there is “no end” in sight.
In September, 15 asylum-seeking families moved into the Island Shores. As the news spread, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the facility, and 10 people were arrested for trying to block a bus with migrants from reaching the building, according to law enforcement.