NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An abandoned property in Brooklyn has racked up more than 200 city violations and the owner owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Neighbors have been fighting for years for something to be done about it, but they say things are only getting worse, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported exclusively on Wednesday.
It’s easy to see how run-down the home and property at 4401 Clarendon Road in East Flatbush is. Visible are huge cracks, a frayed tarp on the roof, and garbage on the lawn.
“It’s not right. There’s no way we should have to live like this,” neighbor Cecilia Holt-Washington said.
Holt-Washington has lived in the adjacent home sine 1980. She said the abandoned property is not just an eyesore. Her and her husband, Mack, have health and safety concerns.
“We always have to be on like almost on a watch, a night watch,” Cecilia said.
“You learn to listen for footsteps,” Mack added.
The couple said they’ve dealt with squatters, roaches, and rodents, adding they repaired their roof, only to experience water leaks as a result of the neighbor’s roof.
Other neighbors said the place has been vacant for years.
The Washingtons said at first a maintenance company would come around and clean, but that stopped years ago. They’ve been keeping a log of all the issues.
So the question is, where is the homeowner? There are two summonses posted on the door — one dating to Dec. 9 and the other posted just hours before Gainer arrived.
Discarded on the steps were more summonses.
The city Department of Finance said the property owner has 232 violations between the Department of Buildings and Department of Sanitation, totaling $310,795.05 in unpaid fines and penalties.
DSNY has issued 13 summonses for dirty sidewalk, dirty area, and sidewalk obstruction violations in the last year.
The agency has also cleaned the private property before, which means first serving notice to the owner that they must clean the area or DSNY will clean it and bill them.
The Washingtons tried to sue owner Jewel McLeod for damage to their home, but McLeod couldn’t be found to be served.
Gainer tried several addresses and phone numbers, but couldn’t find her. A man identified as her husband texted CBS2, but didn’t respond to requests for an interview or comment.
Holt-Washington is a city school teacher. Her husband is a former city employee with the Office of Emergency Management who is now suffering from a 9/11-related cancer.
“I need to be more worried about my health, but the majority of my time is making sure the home is safe and secure,” Cecilia said.
They have a message for the owner.
“Take care of your home. You’re affecting our home,” Cecilia said.
“You’re affecting us health-wise, psychologically … It’s taking down the neighborhood,” Mack said.
Their last resort is to move, but they’re worried no one would want to buy a home sitting next to the abandoned property.
The city said it received five complaints about the property from April to December of 2019. DOB inspectors returned and found the property sealed with no one inside. However, the agency said it will issue further enforcement actions if it finds the building is not code-compliant.