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Jamaica squatter house prompts DOB action

For at least a year, a foreclosed house in Jamaica has been attracting homeless squatters and has ruined a small block with litter and odor, according to community leaders and residents.

Last week, the city took charge of the situation by closing the abandoned home and it is trying to make the bank that now has ownership of the house to fix its mess. The city Department of Buildings issued a “failure to maintain” violation at the property, at 88-18 Burdette Place, after it received numerous complaints from neighbors.

The home went into foreclosure about a year and a half ago, according to neighbors, and since then it has attracted dozens of homeless men who broke through the doors and windows.

“I saw this guy drinking from a bottle and kick the door,” said Ana Polanco, who has lived on the small block for six years.

Even though the city sealed up the entrance and the windows of the white house, there was still a pile of trash that littered the ground around it and stunk up the area, which is enclosed by a dead end.

The DOB has listed Wells Fargo as the owner of the property, but representatives of the bank did not return an e-mail message for comment. Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick had heard that Wells Fargo did not own the property, but she did not know who owned the house.

Areas in southeast Queens, including Jamaica, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens, lead the state in the number of foreclosures, according to Reddick. She has received numerous complaints from residents about squatters and other block problems arising from the rise in foreclosures in the past.

“There are a lot of foreclosed houses in Board 12, but that one was the worst,” she said.

A representative from the DOB said the agency is pursuing action in ´╗┐civil court to force whoever owns the property to properly seal the building.

Reddick advised any homeowner who experiences problems with a foreclosed home on their block to immediately call the board and 311 before things get out of hand.

“If I were on that block, I’d be calling every week,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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