MANCHESTER — An elderly man was evicted Wednesday from the subsidized apartment where he has lived since the 1980s, after breaking an agreement not to smoke inside the apartment, according to court records.
Neighbors of Gerald Pilotte said they complained angrily to Hillsborough County Sheriff deputies who escorted him from the upstairs apartment at 14 Falls Ave. in the Hollow area of the city.
The deputies eventually returned Pilotte, who is about 80, to the apartment. After social workers conferred with officials from the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Manchester police officers drove Pilotte to an assisted living facility on Prospect Street.
"I shouldn't be evicted. It wasn't my fault," he told a reporter shortly before the eviction.
By the late afternoon, neighbors said Pilotte had returned to his apartment and kicked open the door. Police arrived a couple of hours later and brought him back to Washington Manor, said neighbor John Brady.
The owner of Washington Manor assisted living facility, Susan Ventresca, said Pilotte left in the afternoon and appeared to have walked back to the Hollow.
"He's his own person. There's no way I could keep him," Ventresca said. "He's having a hard time making the transition."
Last October, Pilotte forestalled an eviction by agreeing to no longer smoke in his apartment. He also started using a microwave, which eliminated the problem of food burning on the stove and triggering the smoke detector.
But the housing authority returned to court this June and said Pilotte was smoking in his apartment. A judge said he violated the agreement, noted that a guardian had been appointed for Pilotte and allowed for the eviction this month.
"He's been here 35 years. He served our friggin' country (in the Army), and this is what you do to him in the end? I'm so disgusted I could throw up," said Linda Boulanger, who lives across the hall.
She said she's had issues with Pilotte. He used to bang on her door and ask her to call the housing authority. Once he came to her door naked, she said.
Pilotte is hard of hearing and suffers from several diseases, including cancer, bronchitis, ulcers and high cholesterol.
"All his mental faculties aren't there anymore," said Brady, who added he didn't like the eviction.
Housing Authority Director Dick Dunfey said federal privacy laws prevent him from addressing issues with any tenant.
"Sometimes, we have to make very difficult decisions that are unsavory to us," he said. "We're in the business of housing people, not unhousing them."