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Paralyzed grandmother, victim of gunman, now homeless as well

A grandmother paralyzed four years ago by a gunman’s bullet intended for her daughter is now homeless.

Tara Hall says she was forced to leave her Cheektowaga apartment designed for the physically challenged because of a dispute involving one of her grown children periodically staying at the Cheektowaga residence. She spent June living in a relative’s backyard.

Hall, 52, then was admitted to Erie County Medical Center in July for treatment of complications of her paralysis from the waist down. She’s now in Terrace View, a long-term care facility and nursing home associated with ECMC.

“I’m young and I’m in my right state of mind. I don’t want to be in a nursing home forever,” she said.

So far, nobody wants her.

And that’s why she is making a public appeal for housing.

“When my wounds heal, they are not allowing me to stay here, and I just don’t have $600 a day to stay. I only get $800 a month to live on,” Hall said.

Hall lost her ability to walk when a bullet struck her in the back on the evening of Oct. 31, 2012, just after her grandchildren had returned from trick-or-treating on Halloween.

A hooded gunman forced his way into Hall’s second-floor apartment and began shooting in what authorities believe was a case of witness intimidation. One of Hall’s relatives had assisted authorities in identifying a suspect in a previous shooting. As it turned out, the relative’s cooperation proved unnecessary when the suspect was fatally shot.

In the months after Hall was shot, she faced the prospect of up to a five-year wait for approval of a federal housing voucher for an apartment. That changed when Sen. Charles E. Schumer interceded. She was moved to the top of the waiting list, and Schumer also helped find her an apartment that was wheelchair accessible. At the time, the senator was promoting federal legislation against witness intimidation.

But the apartment that Olmsted Center for Sight on Alpine Place operated in Cheektowaga has not worked out for Hall.

“The relationship was not a right fit between the tenant and the landlord,” Tammy Owen, chief executive officer for Olmsted, said in offering a reason why they did not renew the lease.

Hall also was hospitalized last November for wounds stemming from her lack of mobility, and at that time, she gave her apartment key to her 26-year-old son so he could collect her mail and water her plants, she said.

Others complained, Hall said.

“They said he was running in and out of the apartment at all hours of the night, and who waters plants at 3 o’clock in the morning? They said he had friends over,” Hall said.

She added that she has had difficulties with the law over the years but that it is in her past and her life has been ravaged as a victim of crime.

“Nobody is perfect, and sure I made mistakes in the past, but I’m not living that life any more. I did my time,” Hall said.

When Hall left the apartment on May 31, she said she lived in a relative’s backyard off Kilhoffer Street and during that time reinjured her buttocks and had a urinary tract infection, requiring a return to ECMC.

Now as Hall continues to mend, she says she has reached out to Schumer for help because her repeated efforts to find an apartment have failed.

“Sen. Schumer showed how much he cared about me the last time and his staff has told me he is willing to help me again. There are a lot of people who have authority to help but I’ve been getting the runaround. Sen. Schumer puts in the footwork. He makes it happen,” Hall said.

Jason Kaplan, a spokesman for Schumer, confirmed that the senator is trying to assist Hall in finding a new place to reside.

Hall says that she lived most of her life without a disability and that the last four years in a wheelchair have provided her with insight into just how difficult it is for people with physical challenges. “At least I still have my mind. I just don’t have my ability to walk,” Hall said.

Anyone with an apartment accessible to the physically challenged can call her at 551-7696.

“I pay my rent and I pay my bills. I always have. I never miss. If I go in the hospital again for any reason, I’ll just keep my apartment key to myself and the house plants will have to die,” she said.

email: lmichel@buffnews.com

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