ITHACA, NY – On Dec. 23, two days before Christmas, three Ithaca families received some bad news. They were being evicted, and had 30 days to get out of their homes.

[do_widget id= text-55 ]

We reported a few weeks ago when the Elmira Savings Bank purchased a large chunk of land in the area. Now it seems development is ready to start, but in order to move ahead, the residents must be evicted.

Mayor Svante Myrick said he found out about the issue early this morning and called the bank’s president. He said that the bank’s president agreed that 30 days was a particularly harsh requirement and said he would look in to changing it and finding other ways to ease the transition.

Elmira Savings Bank CEO Tom Carr confirmed that the bank agreed to to extend the deadline until the of end spring.

Carr said that providing 30-days notice in these situations is standard business practice and that all was done according to law.

Carr said that the bank is currently working with local professionals and Ithaca’s City Planning Board to come up with a plan for use of the land. He didn’t provide any specifics on what would be built there, but said that the land would be put “to the highest and best use.”

Related: Why did a major bank snatch up prime Ithaca land in $1.75m deal?

According to a letter written by activist Leah Grady Sayvetz, the eviction notices were given to families on the 100 block of N. Meadow St. just before Christmas. The letter says all the families are low-income, and some still have time remaining on their leases. The letter says the banks also purchased eight other lots.

Myrick told us that one family had already secured new housing, and with the help of the Department of Social Services, he hoped the others could also land on their feet.

Asked if this conflicted with Ithaca’s pledge to tackle affordable housing, Myrick said that it is important to be realistic about the scale. “Anything that removes housing is bad, because we’re in a housing crisis, but this is a minor setback for the city. It’s a huge setback for those families, unless we can help them land on their feet.”

Displaced resident gives her take

Ana Ortiz, one of the displaced residents who has fortunately been able to secure new housing, said that she was “very sad and disappointed in the way they handled this,” saying that the families should’ve at least been given more notice.

She related how the eviction notice was delivered: Ortiz was at the hospital with her son, when someone came by and delivered the eviction notice to her 16-year old daughter.

Ortiz is a mother of four, all of her children suffer from medical issues that leave her unable to work. While she has secured a new place to live, she was upset that she was forced to move outside of the city to Caroline. She also expressed concern that the new house might not pass Section 8 inspection, which would leave her in an even worse situation.

Ortiz says she will be writing the bank to see if they might help her and her neighbors to pay for moving expenses.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

[do_widget id= text-61 ]

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.