Foreclosures bring squatters, evictions to community in South Jamaica

Last spring, Pamela Chappell saw a man sweeping the stoop next door at 114-02 Inwood St. in South Jamaica. At first she thought, „That’s nice, somebody bought the foreclosed house and moved in.“

Then came reality.

„I find out it’s a squatter,“ she said.

The home had been empty since early 2008, which was not helpful to Chappell, who has owned her home next door since 2001 and has paid her bills on time.

The squatter had a partner, a pregnant woman. They jimmied the lock to the basement and lived in the house for more than a month until cops kicked them out in June.

The cops found a live pet hamster and a sonogram that had apparently been left behind by the pregnant woman. Since then, the house has been boarded up.

Once, Chappell’s home was worth $425,000. Now, she says she’s been told it’s worth far less than half that.

„It’s because of that,“ she said, pointing next door.

‚Soldiering‘ on

At night it’s dark at 115-39 147th St., though there are tenants at home. Last year the bank foreclosed on the property and the landlord stopped paying the electric bill.

Kevin Williams, 29, lives there with his girlfriend and cousins. „Right now, I‘m soldiering,“ he said. „I got hot water. I got gas. The only problem is just the lights.“

‚I‘m not worried‘

Fifteen homes are in foreclosure on a single block of 145th St. between Linden Blvd. and 115th Ave. Banks own four of these homes, including 114-05 145th St.

Patrick Nichols lives there with his 2-year-old son, his wife, his brother-in-law and father-in-law. Nichols stopped paying the $1,600 rent when the owner stopped coming around to collect it.

The eviction notice arrived in September.

„I‘m not worried,“ said Nichols, 27, who’s studying surgical technology. „To tell you the truth, I‘m trying to get myself together so when they come for the house I can get myself out of here.“

‚Got to do what we got to do‘

Charlie Williams, his wife, Kenya, and four children ages 4 to 13 moved into 114-61 145th St. in December 2007. A month later, the property was in foreclosure.

In April, an order was signed putting the Queens house up for auction. He was paying $1,700 a month, but the landlord stopped coming around.

„Yeah, I‘m worried about being evicted,“ said Williams, 44. „My kids like the school, they like the neighborhood, but hey, we got to do what we got to do.“

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