Residents of Jamaica, Queens Frustrated By Squatters Moving Into Vacant Homes

May 11, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

Parts of Queens are starting to look like Baltimore, Detroit and St. Louis, dotted with abandoned homes that have turned into a major nuisance for the local community. DNAinfo reports that some of the vacant homes in Jamaica, Queens were left empty due to foreclosures:

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.

Currently, there are nearly 7,700 properties in the neighborhood that are in some stage of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac, a national real estate database which included five Jamaica zip codes in its analysis (11435, 11432, 11433, 11436 and 11434).

More than 7 percent of all homes in the area are vacant, according to RealtyTrac.

In these cases, banks are supposed to step in to find someone to manage the house. But, according to one lawyer, that isn’t happening:

In most cases, banks that take over foreclosed properties “usually hire a property manager” to maintain them, according to Isa Abdur-Rahman, a Jamaica-based real estate attorney.

But in some instances “the banks are not doing their job,” said Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12, which covers portions of Jamaica, St. Albans, Rochdale Village and South Jamaica.

Reddick estimates that at least about 100 homes in the neighborhood have been taken over by squatters. It was not clear how that compared to years past.

Squatters who move into the properties, by New York law, officially become tenants if they’ve lived there for 30 days or longer, making it harder for police to push them out.

According to DNAinfo’s report, the vacant homes are making life pretty dangerous for locals — there are accounts of gang-related activity, fighting and prostitution; there was a fire in one unmanaged home.

(Photo: cleanupjamaicaqueens)