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NEBCA eyes abandoned homes

The North East Bronx Community Alliance plans to monitor abandoned houses in Country Club, Ferry Point, Throggs Neck, Pelham Bay, Spencer Estate and Waterbury LaSalle.

Members of NEBCA want to hold banks responsible for the upkeep of foreclosed and repossessed houses. Too often, banks allow such houses to fall into disrepair, NEBCA member and Country Club Civic Association president Marcia Pavlica said.

The issue hit home for Pavlica more than two years ago, when she discovered squatters and pit bull dogs at an abandoned house on Calhoun Avenue.

“Often the banks don’t give a hoot about the condition of the house,” Pavlica said. “When a bank based in Minnesota or Timbuktu holds the mortgage on a Bronx house, there needs to be respect for the neighborhood.”

As of September, 26 houses in zip codes 10461, 10464 and 10465 had entered the initial stage of foreclosure, five houses had been scheduled for auction and 17 had been repossessed by a bank or lender.

Staff for Senator Jeff Klein assembled the data; Klein plans to work with NEBCA to pressure banks and board up houses before trouble starts. The senator has promoted a bill that would require banks to maintain foreclosed houses until sold or rented.

The bill has passed the Senate and is in the Assembly. Wakefield is ground zero for Bronx foreclosures, not Country Club or Throggs Neck. But Klein expects the number of repossessed houses in the northeast Bronx to swell; there are plenty of unemployed homeowners in Country Club and Throggs Neck, he said.

Of the 17 houses repossessed as of September, eight are in 10465 – Country Club, Ferry Point, Throggs Neck, Spencer Estate and Waterbury LaSalle, and nine are in 10461 – Pelham Bay plus Morris Park. None are in 10464 – City Island. Wells Fargo is the top lender, responsible for five of the houses. Three of the repossessed houses in 10461 are on Tomlinson Avenue in Morris Park.

NEBCA members will encourage northeast Bronx civic association members and neighbors to report houses that appear abandoned.

NEBCA member and Ferry Point Community Advocates president Dorothea Poggi hopes NEBCA will develop a standard process to deal with abandoned houses, one appropriate for export to other neighborhoods. When banks fail to maintain repossessed houses, neighbors endure graffiti, stagnant water, uncut grass and worse, Poggi said.

Repossessed houses damage neighborhood property values, Klein said. There were some 50 foreclosures in Throggs Neck in 2008, he added.

NEBCA member and Throggs Neck Homeowners Association president Lynn Gerbino has already fielded reports of abandoned houses on Schley and Randall avenues, Gerbino said. Three houses had entered the initial stage of foreclosure on Hollywood Avenue as of September, three on Calhoun Avenue.

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