NORTH BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Believed to be further fallout from the housing market crash, some residents in on Long Island town say squatters are invading their neighborhood.
The abandoned homes in the area are already eyesores with high grass and fences falling down. But squatters also have moved into at least five houses under foreclosure on Kime Avenue and Greenwood Drive in North Babylon.
Residents said they are disgusted.
“There have been notices on the doors from the banks saying that the house is empty,” one resident told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “People have been moving in, stealing copper pipes and taking wiring out.”
Tina Rohan told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff that some stealthy squatters have moved into homes in the middle of the night.
“Sometimes you wake up in the morning, and there’s a whole family that wasn’t living there yesterday,” she said.
The homes are “not kept,” Rohan added. “The lawns are totally overgrown. There are kids we don’t even think are going to school.”
Residents said one house had aluminum from its pool ripped out in addition to its copper being stolen. Another home was boarded up by residents themselves.
Hall spoke with a worker from the town, who said the homes will be boarded up this week.
The town said it is a long process to force squatters out of homes because they have rights under New York state law.
But residents said the law needs to change because the squatters have been able to turn the utilities on and live without paying a dime.
“It’s just not fair they just move in and take ownership of something that doesn’t belong to them,” resident Ritz Ortiz told Gusoff.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Shaffer said in some cases the foreclosed homes are being leased out by scam artists to unwitting tenants.
“They break in in the middle of the night, change the locks, come up with a key, and have people sign a fake lease and tell them they now have a place to live,” Shaffer said.
CBS 2 tried to speak with residents living in the foreclosed homes, but none agreed to be interviewed.
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