A one-family home on Barnes Avenue is slowly turning into another house of horrors.
For months the overcrowded house at 1719 Barnes Avenue has been slowly falling into disrepair, and its disheveled appearance has started causing a stir in the neighborhood. The property has already racked up $28,000 worth of violations, according to the city Department of Buildings.
“We’re trying to figure out exactly what’s going on over there,” said Community Board 11 district manager, John Fratta.
“The concerns are that they are over-occupying the house. That’s the main problem. You can’t put that many people in the house.”
Fratta said the CB11 is working to track down the owner, and encourages all residents to report problems with properties to 311 so that the city can keep a log of issues related to troubled properties in the area.
The property has received 11 complaints, dating back to May of last year, for building extensions without permits and illegal conversions, among other things. Four violations resulted from the complaints, with two – one for enlarging heating and sewer pipes and the other for a roof enlargement- adding up to $16,000, and a third for $12,000, which is for failing to correct the illegal conditions.
According to local resident Joe Bombace, at least 14 adults are living in the two-story house. He said people are living in all the floors, including the basement.
“It’s another absentee owner,” Bombace said. “They don’t shovel the snow. They don’t maintain the property and it’s upsetting the neighbors. It’s a fire safety issue and it’s also a public safety issue. With all the violations the severity is class one, so all three are immediately hazardous. It’s not a safe environment.”
This particular house has been a problem for only six months, but other properties in the neighborhood have been a problem for years.
“It is an issue in that community. You have illegal conversions because landlords are looking to make money and they think they can get away with it and so you’ll continue to see things like this,” Fratta said.
A few years ago, Bombace fought to get the home on 1706 Barnes Avenue shuttered after it faced similar problems with illegal work and overcrowding.
Bombace said he is fearful the latest troubled Barnes Avenue property could follow the same fate as the 1706 home and become a hub for gang and drug activity.
“This house needs to be brought up to code,” he said. “This is the problem we’re having with absentee owners. They don’t live in the area, and just rent out to meet the mortgage.”
For now, the community board is pushing the DOB to continue following up on issuing and staying current with the violations.