Monday, October 17, 2011
Still squatting in Southeast Queens
From the NY Times:
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.
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.
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.”