Dozens of homes are sitting empty in Jamaica, blighting the neighborhood with squatters, gang activity and drug dealers, residents and local officials say.
The abandoned properties, some of which became vacant following the foreclosure crisis, are usually easy to spot with overgrown grass and garbage piling up in front of them.
One, on 166th Street, was used as a hiding place for a gunman following the shooting of Jerwaine Gorman, a father of three, last month, officials said. As of Wednesday, nobody had been charged in that case, police said.
Neighbors said the home's previous residents moved out about two years ago. Some time later, they said, a group of men moved in.
“There was always a lot of cars parked outside, a lot of people going back and forth," said one neighbor, who did not want his name to be used. "They were so loud, always yelling and fighting.”
The New York City Housing Authority, which owns the house, said it "has been cooperating with police and has re-secured this property."
"We recognize the significant impact a vacant home can have on the fabric of a community, including neighborhood safety," a spokeswoman for the agency said.
According to local elected officials and published reports, of all foreclosures in New York City over the last two years, almost a third have been in Jamaica.