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60 Homes Have Sat Abandoned On Rockaway Peninsula Ever Since Sandy

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Moldy trash remained in homes that were still abandoned 20 months after Superstorm Sandy, and residents have demanded a cleanup.

As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Friday evening, the list is long. Sixty homes on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens have been abandoned by residents after Superstorm Sandy.

Residents have demanded a cleanup, saying the homes are eyesores and health hazards.

Cancer survivor Joyce Zoller lives next to one of the homes on Neponsit Avenue. She believes mold inside is drifting toward her home and destroying her health.

“It’s toxic to me,” Zoller told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez earlier this week. “It’s affected my eye. My eye is always oozing. I’m back and forth to doctors. My lungs, I’m on inhaler.”

Other neighbors said they take antibiotics and steroids for conditions caused by living near moldy, abandoned homes.

“The storm waters may receded, but the germs, bacteria, and toxins were left behind, said Danny Ruscillo of the 100th Precinct Community Council. “Whoever owns property in this condition must be held responsible.”

In many cases, the abandoned homes are now the responsibility of banks, including HSBC, that had held the mortgages.

In Belle Harbor, Wells Fargo owns one Sandy-abandoned property, which sold for almost $1 million just eight years ago.

But now, garbage is piling up on the porch, and a peek through a boarded-up window showed rotting floors inside.

Residents have joined with state Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder (D-Queens) to push for changes. One proposal would make banks responsible for maintaining vacant properties after three months of non-payment, instead of much later in the foreclosure process.

Another would ease city agencies’ access to abandoned properties.

“They’ve all put notices on the front door, but that’s where their jurisdiction ends,” Goldfeder said. “This legislation would give them the ability to go into the homes, clean them up, and bill the bank.”

CBS 2 asked HSBC Bank about the house on Neponsit Avenue. A representative would only say the bank is looking at it.

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