Photo by Steve Mosco
By Steve Mosco

Residents in Middle Village are tired of picking up the pieces of a crumbling house.

A retired couple on 67th Road has lived near an abandoned home since the original owner met an untimely end more than two years ago. Since then, shingles have fallen from the house’s facade, windows have shattered and the overgrown backyard has become a home to rodents and a breeding ground for fleas and mosquitoes.

“It’s bad for the neighborhood, bad for the block and bad for the environment,” said the neighbor, who chose not to give his or his wife’s names. “It’s a health hazard and it seems like no one wants to do anything about it.”

The couple, who have lived in the house for more than 50 years, had taken it upon themselves to clean the property and attempt to improve the residence’s appearance. Along with the help of other neighbors, they pull weeds, sweep away shattered siding and pick up rusted nails strewn along the driveway.

But lately the work has gotten to be too much. The frustrated neighbor has written letters to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the city Department of Health, but his prodding has only yielded automated responses.

“I do the best that I can, but I can’t do it anymore,” the neighbor said. “I’m a retired veteran.”

HSBC Bank U.S.A. is currently acting as trustee for the house, but it does not own the house, according to a bank spokesman.

“This is a trust-owned property,” the spokesman said. “HSBC Bank U.S.A. acts as a trustee for certain loan securitization trusts in connection with the issuance of mortgage-backed securities. As trustee, the bank has only a nominal role with the respect to the properties owned by the trust. Under the agreements that establish the trusts, other companies are designated as the servicers of the loans and those servicers handle matters such as mortgage foreclosures, loan modifications, evictions, sales and upkeep of foreclosed trust properties.”

According to Brazil, the servicer responsible for this property’s upkeep is Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, which did not respond to requests for comment.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said a sale could be imminent.

“We have a situation where we are in the short period of time between the bank selling the property and city agencies getting involved,” he said. “The lender believes a sale might be imminent, but if we find out it is not imminent and it doesn’t get sold, we will figure out a short-term solution to get some relief for the residents.”

Addabbo said health concerns from neighbors could spur the city to step in and clean up the property.

Meanwhile, neighbors in the community will keep trying to ignore the residential eyesore and the wildlife foraging for food in the backyard.

“I don’t care what went on in that house before,” said the neighbor, referring to the former owners of the dilapidated dwelling. “I just want it cleaned. The entire neighborhood asks what’s going on with that house.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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