Randall Ave. squatters shown the door

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development ordered 2878 Randall Avenue vacated. A group of squatters had called the property home for the past six years. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

A troublesome property on Randall Avenue which has had squatters living in it has been ordered sealed and vacated by the city due to a damaged roof, frequent fights, and a group of pit bulls neighbors said were out of control.

For the past six years, neighbors of 2878 Randall Avenue had been concerned about squatters in the vacant home, between E. Tremont Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway.

According to reports, the trespassers used flashlights at night to get around the first and second floors of the two-family home. Another man with four pit bulls occupied a basement apartment.

While most neighbors were afraid to blow the whistle for fear of reprisals, one did reach out to Councilman Jimmy Vacca. Vacca contacted the Department of Housing Development and Preservation to investigate the matter.

“I don’t know where the owner is and why he didn’t go to court and try to get rid of the squatters, or to fix the house,” said Councilman Vacca. “I worked with HPD when I got the complaint, and am breathing a sigh of relief that this was done.”

According to sources, On Wednesday, May 27 police conducted a raid bringing almost two-dozen officers, as well as two ambulances, to the scene. Neighbors said that there were often fights between the squatters living in the building, which often necessitated a police response.

According to an HPD spokesman, the agency issued a vacate order on Thursday, June 4 and enforced it at noon on Wednesday, June 10 for conditions found during an inspection of the home.

Donlin said that apartments have to have certain light and ventilation requirements, and often times cellar apartments do not meet these requirements and do not have a second means of egress, or exit, in case of an emergency like a fire.

“The repairs needed would go beyond the scope of our emergency vacate program,” Donlin stated.

It appears that at least part of the roof of the building might need to be replaced, he said.

Vacca said that he thought that 2878 Randall Avenue highlights a much larger problem of houses being turned into Single Room Occupancy apartments.

“We have had similar cases in Zerega and Van Nest with S.R.O.’s, which we have gotten closed over the past year,” Vacca said. “We have people who rent their homes and then wash their hands of them. An absentee owner has a responsibility to take care of their property.”

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