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Brooklyn Residents Shaken Over Nearby Construction They Say Has Damaged Homes

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are bad vibrations between homeowners in one Brooklyn community and their newest neighbor.

As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported, residents in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn say they’ve endured months of house-shaking construction related to the construction of a nearly 200-bed, city-commissioned homeless shelter on East 45th Street.

Homeowners in houses adjacent to the site say when crews used pile drivers to insert poles deep into the soil to provide support for the building, the vibrations were so violent they shook the entire block and caused costly cracks in dozens of homes.

“It was like a mini-earthquake,” Beverley Williams said. “It was truly nerve-racking, the constant banging, banging, banging.”

“It can be anything from cracks in their masonry, cracks in their walkways or, in some cases, the foundation has completely shifted,” said homeowner Gerard Brewster.

Flatlands homeowners say the construction of a homeless shelter resulted in cracks in their houses. (credit: CBS 2)

Flatlands homeowners say the construction of a homeless shelter resulted in cracks in their houses. (credit: CBS 2)

In 2013, the city Department of Buildings issued seven violations to the project’s general contractor, Townhouse Builders, which was hired by the site’s developer, Helm Equities. Records show Townhouse Builders failed to follow the rules of pile driving.

All of the violations have since been resolved with the city, but residents say the damage to their homes has not. They want the developer to pay for repairs to their homes.

“I have to get an engineer, plus I have to get a contractor,” said Gloria Bennett, whose house was damaged. “I can’t do this myself. I want them to pay for it.”

“You’ve got to take care of people’s homes and fix them,” Brewster said.

There was one meeting between homeowners and Helm Equities in December, but nothing was resolved. Residents say if something is not worked out soon, they’ll have no choice but to file a lawsuit.

“Don’t ignore us,” Williams said. “Let’s work it out.”

A representative for Helm Equities said the city would be responsible for any payments to homeowners.

A spokesperson for the city didn’t comment about any potential payouts, but told CBS 2 officials have to “work closely with the civic leaders and the neighborhood on all issues related” to the homeless shelter, which will house families with children.

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