NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some Queens residents are frustrated with a neighbor’s home that is covered in garbage.
The homeowner has received thousands of dollars in fines, yet nothing was done about it. CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez demanded answers from the city on Wednesday.
Carminee Bhimull, the site’s 57-year-old resident, defended the unsightly pile of trash bags in a heap outside her South Jamaica home.
“What’s another person’s garbage is somebody else’s treasure. Don’t they say that?” Bhimull said.
Neighbors said the smelly stash on 118th Avenue has been steadily growing, claiming Bhimull has been collecting garbage for more than 10 years. They’ve asked her to clean it up and even reached out to city agencies, but their complaints apparently fell on deaf ears.
“I’m just tired of this,” neighbor Patricia Johnson said. “I just want them to get rid of it, move those things. Get rid of all this mess. It’s just too much to deal with. It’s overbearing.”
Trash bags are piled as high as the second floor.
“And you can’t even pass there because there’s so much fleas and smelling,” Johnson said. “There’s 6-pound rats running around.”
Bhimull said what she has been doing is about survival, and none of it in her opinion is trash.
“It’s not garbage; it’s recyclable,” she said. “Is it OK to have recyclables?”
When asked why she hasn’t put it in the yard so the Department of Sanitation can pick it up, Bhimull said, “I do recyclable. I go around and I pick it up, so I can make an honest living. So what is the problem?”
Neighbors explained several.
“She picks up cans from everyone’s house. She’s getting the cans, but she saves them here and keeps them. There’s mice, rats, everything,” resident Garrick Austin said.
“It’s a fire hazard,” neighbor Shawn Farrior added. “People call the authorities, and everything, but it doesn’t help anything.”
“I try and call 311. I try and write letters. And they did nothing,” Johnson added. “I’m tired of talking to people. I don’t know what else to do. I’ve had enough of it.”
Old sanitation notices are tucked in Bhimull’s fence. She racked up more than $300,000 in fines since 2015 from the Department of Buildings for not keeping her property in safe and code-compliant conditions.
“I’m not saying I plan to do anything. You don’t know what’s gonna happen in two or three hours from now,” Bhimull said.
Since April, the Department of Health says the house has failed four inspections for creating conditions conducive to rats.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told Sanchez he reached out to several commissioners to find out how the yard got so out of control.
“We need to figure out if there are legal concerns or if we needed to get the Health Department involved. We need to figure out how to get it done,” de Blasio said.
Late Wednesday afternoon, firefighters arrived to inspect the home. That came as a relief to many neighbors.
“It’s torture,” Johnson said.
Health inspectors also showed up, telling Sanchez off camera it might take a court order before the city can go in and haul the mess away. EMS took Bhimull to the hospital for evaluation.