NYC woman found dead, homeless in subway lost home in 2018 – New York Daily News

She used to live in Queens on Utopia Pkwy. She died homeless and alone in the bowels of a Long Island City subway station.
Audrey Lumer, 63, was found dead Feb. 9 on the subway platform at the 21st. St-Van Alst station on the G line, surrounded by bags and covered in bed bugs. She’d been evicted from her apartment less than four years earlier.
She was an amateur painter who hoarded cats and ran her own travel agency on Long Island until the business shuttered, according to her family.
Lumer was already in rough shape when she was evicted on June 8, 2018 — and she turned to a life on the streets that lasted 1,342 days. She was one of at least six homeless people found dead on the subway so far this year — and the only one whose family has been notified, according to the NYPD.
“The police called me Wednesday and told me the news about Audrey,” her brother, Steven Lumer, wrote in a eulogy last week. “I couldn’t believe it, but I guess it was just a matter of time.”
Her demise highlights the parallel crises of homelessness and mental health the city is reckoning with — as housing advocates brace for the impact of last month’s expiration of New York State’s eviction moratorium.
In 2013, Lumer moved back into her father’s home on Utopia Pkwy., where she grew up, a block away from Francis Lewis High School, which she attended, her family said.
Her house in Long Island had been foreclosed on that year — and she settled in with her father, Joseph. But two years later the old man decided to spend his golden years in Florida with his new girlfriend, and moved out of the apartment he’d lived in since 1962, surrendering the lease.
But Lumer didn’t move out or pay her father’s rent, housing court records show. The landlords sought to evict her, a process that took three years.
She pleaded with the court to let her stay, claiming in a May 31, 2018 filing that her “wallet was stolen three weeks ago. They took my driver’s license.”
Lumer was evicted eight days later.
“I do not have a place to live,” she wrote in a court filing three days after she was booted from the apartment.
“I was left with no money,” she claimed in more paperwork on June 22.
She packed her few belongings — and her clowder of cats — into a U-Haul truck and took them to a storage facility. She made some money off of government assistance and occasionally worked as a food deliverer, according to her family.
But it wasn’t enough to get a roof over her head.
She couldn’t stay with her brother Steven, a finance director who owns an apartment on the Upper East Side. Earlier that year, he got a protective order against his sister because he said she was harassing him and his family.
“Right before she got evicted I tried to get her the help she needed,” said Steven. “I said she needed a plan. She needed to get the help that the city and religious centers offer, but she refused.”
Two months after Lumer was evicted, Steven said he received a call from the police notifying him there were cats crying in his sister’s storage unit. Cops asked his permission to open the unit and take the cats to a shelter. He agreed.
Lumer’s mental health deteriorated over the next few years, her relatives said. Her father died in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept the family from gathering for a proper funeral.
She’d regularly repost old photos on Facebook, which she did using laptops at electronic stores.
In some of her posts she accused her brother of stealing her cats and her father’s girlfriend of forcing her out of the Utopia Pkwy. apartment.
“Being homeless makes it challenging for people to stay mentally healthy,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless. “People’s lives can quickly unravel when they don’t have stable affordable housing. Every person we see on the subways and on the streets has a history we don’t know.”
It’s unclear whether Lumer ever stayed in a homeless shelter or made contact with homeless outreach workers.
The last time Lumer made contact with her brother was last year, when she showed up in his building lobby and demanded to see him. Steven called the police, who declined to take her to get help because she did not pose a threat to herself or others.
Less than a year later, she was dead on the G train platform.
Lumer’s story shows how fragile life is for so many in New York after they’re evicted, said Judith Goldiner, attorney in charge at the Legal Aid Society. And an imminent eviction crisis could thrust countless others into similar situations, she said.
“So many people are behind in their rent, so many people live in apartments without protections,” said Goldiner. “What are we going to do for those folks?”
Research from NYU’s Furman Center found there were 3,455 outstanding eviction warrants in the city when the moratorium went into effect in March 2020 as the pandemic hit. There have been more than 78,000 new eviction filings since then, the research shows.
“A lot of people need help,” said Steven, who buried his sister in Staten Island last week. “She wanted to be a famous artist. And you know what? Maybe her story gives her that.”
Mayor Adams announced a plan Friday to push more homeless New Yorkers into shelters and care facilities.
“A few weeks too late,” Steven lamented.

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