Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fire, Vandalism To Attached Neighboring Property In Foreclosure Destroys Dreams For Young NJ Family

In Trenton, New Jersey, The Times of Trenton reports:

  • Remy Joseph says his American dream has been torn apart. Three years ago, he moved into 262 Home Ave. with his wife and three young children, thinking he had it made. His boss at the construction company where he works owned the building, and offered to rent it at a reasonable price. With three bedrooms, two baths, a backyard and a basement, it looked like the perfect place to raise a growing family. “The kitchen, the bedroom, everything was new,” Joseph said.

  • But adjacent to him was a gathering storm. The neighboring house, which shares a common wall with his, went into foreclosure. Last October the neighbors were kicked out and the home went to a sheriff’s sale. Neighborhood teenagers began using the vacant home as their clubhouse, and Joseph said they began harassing him and his family.

  • Finally, in June, the neighboring house went up in flames, which also caused heavy damage to Joseph’s home, and was followed by a rash of vandalism and looting that has left his place in tatters and barely worth repairing. The fire that drove Joseph from his residence struck June 30.

  • His children and his neighbor’s kids were on the second floor watching TV when the abandoned house went up in flames. The blaze got into the walls and made its way into Joseph’s house. Everyone escaped unharmed, but his home suffered heavy fire, smoke and water damage to the second floor and was left uninhabitable, according to the fire chief’s report.

  • The police said the youths had set the fire and arrested three of them. When they were released from custody they came back for their revenge, breaking into Joseph’s house, which had been boarded up for repairs, and completely trashing the inside, he said. “That’s like a slap in the face,” he said. “It’s not right. It’s not right at all. From where I come from, you don’t disrespect people.”

  • After the break-ins, more vandals and thieves followed. Less than five months later, the house is a husk, stripped of almost anything of value. Paint is strewn over the furniture and the dining room mirror. All the copper piping was ripped out of the basement and the walls; even the shower was torn apart to get to the metal.


  • Joseph’s daughter’s bed lies on its side in a destroyed room where the Latin Kings gang symbol has been marked on the pink walls. His children, a 7-year-old boy and 11- and 12-year-old daughters, are with his wife in New York while he stays in Trenton so he can keep working.

  • I’m at a point right now, I’m at a boiling point, where I’m like, ‘Forget it,’” he said. “It’s like telling those kids, ‘Do what you want to do. You’ll get a slap on the wrist.’” His boss has told him to simply let the home go into foreclosure, because repairs will now be too expensive, he said.


  • He estimates his side of the house needs $60,000 in repairs. He doesn’t have the money to fix the place up and his boss can’t get a loan for the work. The two homes’ problems are literally connected. The ceiling of Joseph’s home has been torn apart, so that thieves can move easily through the rafters from one house to another.

For more, see Dream of life in Trenton home fades after foreclosure, vandalism and fire.

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