Saturday, October 29, 2011

Strip Shows, Sex Peddling, Drug Sales, Gang Activity Put Foreclosed Homes Left Vacant, Unsecured By Reckless Loan Servicers To 'Lowest & Worst Use'

In Jamaica, Queens, The New York Times reports:

  • The boarded-up homes that changed the face of Jamaica, Queens, in recent years were bad enough, the flotsam of the record wave of housing foreclosures that roared through the streets like nowhere else in New York City.

  • But those vacant homes are now recalled almost fondly. For nature, as the saying goes, abhors a vacuum, and so do criminals. The police and neighbors say those vacant homes are filling with drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, gang members, squatters and copper thieves.

  • They’re becoming a magnet for criminal activity,” said Deputy Inspector Miltiadis Marmara, the commanding officer of the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica. “They hang out in these abandoned homes that may be foreclosed, or the owners walked away.” He added, “Every day we respond to something to that effect.”

  • The police do not keep statistics specifically on crime rates involving foreclosed homes. But Inspector Marmara said his officers had seen a rise both in vacant homes and in crimes occurring in those homes — like theft of copper pipes for scrap, which has spiked in the last year.

  • It is not uncommon for a team of officers to research property records for an address — in hope of tracking down an owner to make a complaint — only to find another foreclosure, he said. People who live on these blocks said criminals flocked to newly vacant homes that were taken in foreclosure.

  • You see them smoking their drugs in the driveway at night,” said a community activist who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, for fear of retaliation. “They have parties. If the cops come, they run. During the day, they’re quiet as a church mouse.”

  • Councilman James Sanders Jr., who represents a nearby Queens district, said the problem was growing. “And why wouldn’t it happen?” he said.

  • We’re seeing activities where people are having strip shows in these homes.” Jamaica’s councilman, Leroy G. Comrie Jr., said: “I just drove by a house we boarded up, and it’s open again and there are squatters living there. It fell into foreclosure because the developer ran out of money.”

For more, see Foreclosures Empty Homes, and Criminals Fill Them Up.

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