At times, this stretch of 118th Avenue in South Jamaica, Queens, feels not so much like a neighborhood but a memory of one.
A red-brick house with overgrown weeds in the yard is boarded shut. A house with a dirty awning has a thick chain looping out from a hole in the door where a deadbolt once was. On the front window of a vacant property around the corner, someone has taped a sign warning that the water supply has been shut off and antifreeze added to the sinks and toilets.
Door to Door, Foreclosure Knocks Here
This area at 118th Avenue and 153rd Street is at the center of New York’s foreclosure crisis. About 28 percent of the homes in this working-class neighborhood just north of Kennedy Airport have been in some phase of foreclosure since 2004, and its census tract leads the city in foreclosure filings.
More than two years ago, most homes here were occupied and the neighborhood was making strides against the drugs, violence and abandonment that had plagued it in the past, residents and merchants said. But today they mostly talk about decreasing property values, increasing crime, struggling small businesses and fraying community bonds. They talk of leaving, and wonder whose house is next.