where are they now?

Catching Up With New Yorkers You Met in THE CITY

Since THE CITY wrote about him and other Second Avenue neighbors, Carlos Hernandez says the MTA came to survey his property, but offered little other details.
Since THE CITY wrote about him and other Second Avenue neighbors, Carlos Hernandez says the MTA came to survey his property, but offered little other details. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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We’ve published more than 600 stories since launching our newsroom earlier this year — tackling education, ethics and spending, transportation, housing, immigration and justice, among other issues.

Some stories were the product of tips and leads shared by readers. Many others came to us through our reporters roving the five boroughs.

Even after stories are published, we keep in touch with the subjects of our reporting — the New Yorkers who make our work possible.

Below, we answer a question we often hear about those we’ve covered: Where are they now?

The Apartment-Seeker

For months, Irma Troche, 68, of Castle Hill had been trying to use a Section 8 voucher to find housing. But she and her daughters said the retiree was often “ghosted” by landlords and brokers once they revealed her reliance on the vouchers, which guarantee steady payments from the government.

Irma Troche has found a place to live.
Irma Troche has found a place to live. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Since our story, Troche has found an apartment, with the help of the Fair Housing Justice Center.

Section 8 inspectors have approved an apartment in Parkchester, and Troche is “all set to move in” soon, her daughter Madeline Familia said.

— Ese Olumhense

The Tenants

In October, dozens of Queens renters launched the city’s first Bangladeshi tenant union with the assistance of Chhaya, a local social services organization that advocates for South Asians. Tenants said they wanted to fight for greater language access — and against what they called persistent harassment from landlords.

Following the story, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders publicly supported the Bangladeshi Tenant Union. Weeks later, he released a national campaign video that featured the group as he promoted his rent control proposal.

A screenshot from Bernie Sanders' campaign video featuring Bangladeshi Tenants Union.
A shot from Bernie Sanders’ campaign video featuring Bangladeshi Tenants Union. Photo: Bernie Sanders /Twitter

Since then, the union has led the formation of tenant associations in five more buildings, in Long Island City, Astoria and Jamaica. The group also successfully fought the eviction of one tenant leader in Jamaica.

The tenant union is “working hard to educate tenants across Queens about their rights as renters,” said Rima Begum, a tenant organizer at Chhaya.

— Christine Chung

The Drivers

Eighteen years after undocumented immigrants lost the ability to get a driver’s license in New York, scores of them lined up at Department of Motor Vehicle offices around the state to apply for learner’s permits.

In the week after the so-called Green Light Law went into effect on Dec. 16, DMV offices around the state issued a combined 13,600 Class D permits, fueled by an 1,800-permit increase over the daily average, according to an agency spokesperson.

A car drives up Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
A car drives up Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

In the spring, Doris from El Salvador told THE CITY how a 15-minute car ride to pick up her son, who has spina bifida, could easily take an hour on the bus.

Now she plans to take her learner’s permit test. In the meantime, she’s studying the driver’s manual and taking practice tests.

“I’m so happy. My life is going to change,” she said.

— Josefa Velasquez

The In-the-Way

In the spring, we told you how hundreds of people in East Harlem — whose buildings are in the path of the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway — are in the dark about plans for the new train that will displace them from their homes.

Eight months later, one of those people still has no clarity about when he’ll lose the building, inherited from his father, where he’s lived his whole life. Carlos Hernandez said the MTA has come to survey his property, but offered him little other details.

Residents on Second Avenue between 110th and 109th streets may be forced out for the extension of the Q train.
Residents on Second Avenue between 110th and 109th streets may be forced out for the extension of the Q train. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

“They say that it would take five to seven years to complete the work,” he told THE CITY.

Meanwhile, the MTA recently approved $6.9 billion to fund the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway. But that’s just part of a $51.5 billion capital project wish list for the MTA that needs federal, state and local funding to become reality.

— Rachel Holliday Smith

The Students

The day THE CITY launched, we got a tip: A long-running English language school in Midtown, ALCC, had closed abruptly, leaving visa-dependent students in the lurch. We told their stories, and followed up with reporting on how the school’s owners had disappeared without paying back students, leaving staff and a credit card servicer owed thousands of dollars.

Some people caught up in the ALCC debacle have recovered, like Carol Viana, a Brazil-born single mom who has since gotten back her tuition money from the bank that issued her credit card.

Former ALCC teacher Jeff Serkin was left high and dry when the school abruptly closed.
Former ALCC teacher Jeff Serkin was left high and dry when the school abruptly closed. Photo: Rachel Holliday Smith/THE CITY

But the man left holding the bag on those tuition credit card charges is still waiting for payback. Sy Weissman, the proprietor of Card Payment Systems, told THE CITY in April that the ALCC owners owed him more than $100,000. Now the amount exceeds that, he said, but he’s stopped counting.

“I’ll tell you, this business — I’m better off going to a racetrack than opening up merchant accounts,” he said.

His suit against ALCC’s owners is pending.

— Rachel Holliday Smith

The PTA

In April, we reported on Teunis G. Bergen Elementary, also known as P.S. 9, a Prospect Heights school that won its request to change its name after one parent learned Bergen was a scion of a slave-owning family.

The school was renamed after Sarah Smith Garnet, the first black woman to serve as a public school principal in New York City. But there’s still no evidence of the change outside the school.

Teunis G. Bergen Elementary School is now named after Sarah Smith Tompkins Garnet, but the signage hasn’t changed.
Teunis G. Bergen Elementary School is now named after Sarah Smith Tompkins Garnet, but the signage hasn’t changed. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The parent-teacher organization has been mired in “city government land,” as parent Andrew Case described it, since the change was approved.

The DOE filed an application for a new sign with the city’s Public Design Commission on Dec. 20. If approved at the next meeting in January, the school will finally have its new sign in the new year, at a cost of a little under $10,000.

— Claudia Irizarry Aponte

The Judge

After mounting an insurgent campaign against Wyatt Gibbons, the Democratic Party’s pick for a Queens Civil Court judgeship, Lumarie Maldonado Cruz won the June primary by more than 20 percentage points.

Following his defeat, Gibbons was nominated by the Queens Democratic Party to a state Supreme Court judgeship and elected to a 14-year term in the Nov. 5 general election.

Lumarie Maldonado Cruz took on The Machine and won.
Lumarie Maldonado Cruz took on The Machine and won. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Cruz won her spot handily in the general election and will be sworn in for a 10-year term on Jan. 16.

She told THE CITY she is “honored and excited” about her new role.

— Christine Chung

The Patient

In September, we reported that a lawsuit filed by Bronx resident Lorraine Evans — who said she had been injured during a 2015 throat biopsy at New York Presbyterian — had recently been dismissed. And although five of the Co-Op City resident’s teeth were knocked out and her jaw broken during the eventually aborted procedure, Medicaid was still billed $14,166.

Lorraine Evans is a fighter.
Lorraine Evans is a fighter. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Her lawyer said her legal appeal should be filed by the end of January.

Evans never did get that biopsy, but since our report she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

“I don’t give up,” said Evans. “I don’t give up on anything.”

— Ese Olumhense

The Teens

Boogie Down Books wanted to help one of its neighbors: Horizon Juvenile Center in The Bronx.

Since we reported on the store’s book drive in July, donors have purchased 150 copies of books on the teens’ wishlist, which include “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” Tupac Shakur’s “The Rose That Grew from Concrete” and Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime.”

Rebekah Shoah with donated books for teens at the Horizon Juvenile Center in The Bronx.
Rebekah Shoah with donated books for teens at the Horizon Juvenile Center in The Bronx. Photo: Eileen Grench/THE CITY

“Considering that … there are about 50-65 kids at Horizon at any given time, this is truly impactful,” said Boogie Down Books owner Rebekah Shoaf.

— Eileen Grench

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