They just want this nightmare to end.
An Ozone Park home in foreclosure, which squatters use to sell drugs, has been the target of police investigations and raids for years — yet it’s still terrorizing the neighborhood, while the process to reclaim the home is ongoing.
Residents have witnessed squatters exchange money for drugs from the house at 105-17 101st Rd. for about four years. As little as three weeks ago, on April 2, cops busted open the home around 6 a.m. with a search warrant and arrested five individuals from ages 25 to 42 after finding drugs, including marijuana.
Christan Henderson, Hasun and Judith Andino, Ebony Goggans and Troy James were all charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to authorities. But as in the past, even after arrests, illegal activities haven’t ceased at the home, according to neighbors.
“It’s Grand Central Station all day,” said an elderly resident on the block, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of becoming a possible target for the squatters. “All day long you see them coming back and forth, back and forth. I have to have four locks on my door. I remember we never even locked our doors when I was younger. Now I’m afraid. I’m a prisoner in my own home.”
Neighbors say “shady” people rotate as residents in the home, so there is not a set family living in the house. Also, individuals come to buy drugs during the day and even late at night.
The property is noticeably falling apart from the outside and it has been sited with complaints and violations from the Department of Buildings, including illegally converting part of the kitchen into a bedroom.
The dead-end 101st Road is bordered by St. Mary’s Gate of Heaven, a Catholic kindergarten through eighth-grade school, a building that nearly 1,000 kids use for school, religious activities and Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball and volleyball.
There has never been a reported incident involving the squatters and children, who are as young as 5, according to a school representative. However, the school community joined forces with residents to report illegal activities to authorities and local politicians, hoping stop the problem before any incidents occur. Also, the school wants to limit exposure of drugs to students.
Because the home is private property, the city and cops are not able to stop people from entering it.
The owner of the house is listed as Nicole Absalom of Bay Shore in Suffolk County, according to city records. Absalom acquired the property in 2008, records show. The home has been in foreclosure since 2010, after Absalom failed to pay CitiMortgage, a division of Citigroup.
There isn’t a listed contact number for Absalom, but according to Assemblyman Mike Miller, his office has attempted to contact the homeowner, with no response. Miller is hoping that CitiMortgage can reclaim the house and remove squatters or give authorities permission to lock up the home.
“The only way to really take action and to keep everybody out of the house is to get permission from the owner to do that, but because the owner is not cooperating, we need the bank to foreclose on the property so that we can get permission from them to get everybody out of the house,” Assemblyman Mike Miller said. “We need them to take action. It’s their responsibility at this point.”
However, the bank said it can’t take back the home yet, because of a sluggish New York State foreclosure process.
“Because Citi services this loan, but does not own it, we have limited options for managing the property prior to foreclosure,” said Mark Rodgers, director of public affairs at Citi. “As we do not own the property, we cannot legally have squatters evicted. We are working with our legal counsel trying to expedite this case.”