Daily News from New York, New York on June 1, 1997 · 13
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Daily News from New York, New York · 13

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New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 1, 1997
Page:
13
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fcfMMtl OODCDir City vows to step in ifbenefit dies ! ' I.-... ............ .. .MM,.. P1MWM s i f ?i ' . . f;; . r 1 ' " " " ' t -J 1 I - . X 1 4 f By MICHAEL F1NNEGAN TENANT Maria Mesa gets subsidy to meet rent cost of her studio apartment at Broadway and 102d St. in Manhattan. Daily News Staff Writer More than 36,000 elderly tenants could face the end of special housing subsidies unless negotiations avert the threatened June 15 elimination of rent laws but city officials say they will try to cushion the blow. Low-income seniors could face dramatic rent increases because a program that takes care of part of their monthly costs would expire with the rent laws, said Herbert Stupp, commissioner of the city Department for the Aging. "If the law just expires, they are all in jeopardy," Stupp said, "but we would seek some way ... to soften that" But Stupp said it's unclear how the city could continue the subsidies which cost $92 million last year if the rent laws expire. The tenants are covered by the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption program, which provides subsidies to apartment dwellers over age 62 whose annual income is below $20,000. Maria Mesa, for example, pays $285 a month for her studio apartment at Broadway and 102d St in Manhattan. But the legal rent for her unit is $414. The city makes up the difference by giving the landlord a property tax credit For Mesa, the subsidy represents a lifeline that enables her to make ends meet on a tight budget Her monthly income is $661 from Social Security, plus $97 in food stamps. After paying utility bills and $66 a month for health insurance, Mesa said she has little extra cash. Elimination of the rent laws would jeopardize the subsidy for 36,784 tenants who live in P KJ UNTIL units covered by the state rent-stabilization law. Another 17,304 elderly tenants would not be affected, because their apartments are covered by the city rent control law. Landlord advocate Dan Margulies of the Community Housing Improvement Program said tenants like Mesa have nothing to fear, because landlords already have received tax credits from the city for the next few months. "In the short term, nothing would happen," Margulies predicted. Expiration of the rent laws also would affect an estimated 8,000 seniors outside the city. The group includes tenants in rent-controlled apartments in Westchester and Nassau counties. Landlords could notify these elderly residents on June 16 that their rents would jump to market rates after July 31, tenant advo cates warn. Gov. Pataki last week declined to say whether he would back special legislation to keep protections for the elderly tenants even if the other rent laws expire. "I don't want to speculate as to what we may or may not do," he said. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Man-hattan) said the Democratic-controlled Assembly has voted to renew all rent protections. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) said the Senate will approve rent law reforms that would keep protections for the elderly. But the Senate and Assembly plans are vastly different and could not become law without a compromise deal. LfCcsLr tooirD(ggiLn $?mm otgM odd dtolt By YING CHAN and ANNE E. KORNBLUT Daily News Staff Writers Quin-Rong Wu was the daughter who liked America, loved dolls and pre- r ' i 1 1 J 1 f 1 ierrea pancaKes ana cereai over iraaiuonai ininese iooa. Hunt spreads for girl's Itiller I Detectives yesterday icontinued their search for the killer of 11-year-old Quin-Rong Wu. After questioning a homeless man for most of Friday and releasing him, police handed out flyers with a sketch of a bearded man last seen with the Chinatown fifth-grader before she was found strangled in the East River. Police have spoken to 30 people, some who fit the description of the man last seen with the girl, and others who said they saw a man resembling the sketch, said Sgt Den&D,o&hk&. "We are following a lot of leadsf-Doohan said. Patrice O'Shaughnessy mm Every morning, the tiny 11- year-old left her apartment on Henry St an hour early to eat breakfast 3 blocks away at Public School 2. "She liked school. She liked New York City," said her sister, Hua Rong Wu, 17. "She was very happy." . But it was on her way to that breakfast two weeks ago that Quin-Rong vanished in front of PS 2. Her strangled body, clad in the same jeans and sweatshirt she had put on that morning, was discovered nearby in the East River on Wednesday. On Thursday, the day that Quin-Rong would have had her fifth-grade graduation pic-ture taken, her parents learned that a killer had bare-handedly choked the 80-pound girl. It had been a year and a half since the family moved from Guangdong Province in southern China to give Quin-Rong, Hua Rong and a younger brother a better life. "If we had known this were going to happen, we would not have come," said the children's father, Qun Sheng Wu, 44. The family already had endured a difficult transition in the move from a tiny rural village to New York. Quin-Rong had never lived with her parents in China. Because she was female and the second of three children, her parents feared harassment under China's population-control policies. So their daughter lodged in a cousin's house, a half-hour bike ride away. When the family immigrated to New York in late 1995, Quin-Rong joined them for the first time. Home was a small, one-bedroom walkup, adorned with Chinese sayings. "Safety and well-being for the whole family," read one four-character sign. Quin-Rong slept in a bottom bunk with her sister, keeping her clothing in cardboard boxes on the top half of the bed. Her parents and brother shared another bottom bunk. Her father, an accountant in Quin-Rong Wu China, works overnight in a noodle factory on Canal St His $290-a-week salary goes toward the $700-a-month rent His wife works odd day shifts in a garment factory, earning $100 in a good week. Quin-Rong did little homework and struggled to speak in anything other than her native dialect Toisan. Her grades were poor. And shortly before her death, the Wus were called to a parent-teacher meeting. "It was a problem, a first-year-in-America issue," said one detective. But still, it was Quin-Rong who loved America most She played Gameboy with her 7-year-old brother and her sister. She kept an electronic English-Chinese dictionary on a desk near her bed. And on the little mattress she shared, Quin-Rong also kept a large teddy bear. "In China, we didn't have dolls," her sister said. "Back in the village, we made our own toys." And unlike her parents and siblings, Quin-Rong loved the subway, her father said. She loved class trips beyond Henry St and the small Jacob Joseph Park, where she was allowed to play. "For us adults, we are here only to work," her mother. You Qin Wu, 40, said in Cantonese. "But the children have better schools, a better future. That's why we came here." Now, the family's future includes a wake tomorrow and a funeral Tuesday. And, they hope, the arrest of Quin-Rong' s killer. "We never dreamed that it would come to this," her mother said. m a. c c a CD CO -J

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