Saturday, August 06, 2011

Abandoned Homes In Foreclosure Called 'Ticking Time Bombs;' Banksters File Actions, Then Sit On Unwanted Collateral As City Bureaucrats Fiddle

In The Bronx, New York, the New York Daily News reports:
  • The Garcia family lost three family members in an April blaze on Prospect Avenue. Reports say innumerable building code violations in forclosed Bronx buildings could lead to more such catastrophes.

  • Bronx foreclosures have racked up hundreds of building code violations of the type that led to a deadly fire on Prospect Ave., according to new report released on Monday. As of July, there were 899 open violations at 273 bank-owned buildings across the borough, including a property less than three blocks away from 2321 Prospect Ave., the site of the April blaze that killed a family of three.

  • Banks such as Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank are ignoring a state law that requires lenders to maintain and secure the foreclosures, said state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), who issued the damning report. The law took effect in 2010.

  • The banks and the city Department of Buildings need to better to safeguard the buildings, said Klein, calling the foreclosures "ticking time bombs."

  • "The banks are very quick to foreclose on a family and deny them the American Dream, but then do nothing to fix the property," he said, standing in front of the charred shell of 2321 Prospect Ave. "I'm calling on the Buildings Department and the banks to maintain the property."

  • The three-family home in Belmont, owned by car dealer Domingo Cedano, had been illegally subdivided into 12 single-room units when it burst into flames. Prior to the blaze, Buildings recorded five complaints of illegal units with faulty wiring and blocked exits, and inspectors visited the site 10 times. But drug dealers operating there wouldn't let the inspectors inside.

  • Bank of New York Mellon failed to keep up the property, despite obtaining a foreclosure judgment in 2009, Klein said. Juan Lopez, 36; Christina Garcia, 43; and their son Christian, 12, were trapped as the building burned. "It was so tragic what happened," said neighbor Elba Marrera, 49. "But the bank didn't care. The landlord didn't care."

  • Klein's report lists the worst foreclosures in the Bronx, including 1055 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Highbridge, with 84 open violations. A two-family home near Prospect Ave., 2209 Beaumont Ave., boasts 13 complaints for illegal subdivisions.

  • "We have a tough law on the books that allows the Buildings Department to make repairs and send the lender the bill," said Klein. "We can prevent fires, we can prevent dangerous situations and we can save lives."

  • In June, Buildings teamed up with the Department of Investigation to file criminal charges against landlords who ignore dangerous violations. Hundreds of owners have been charged. Mayoral spokeswoman Julie Wood said the Bloomberg administration attempts to hold banks accountable, but insisted that Buildings inspectors have no right to force entry.

  • Meanwhile, the drug dealers who operated out of 2321 Prospect Ave. have moved to an empty building next door, said neighbor Chancy Marsh, 39. "If you live on Prospect Ave. you live in fear of low-level criminals," he said.

For the story, see Bank-owned Bronx buildings 'Ticking time bombs'; Wells Fargo and Deutsche ignore building codes.