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Sun, 03 Oct 2004

POL AIMS TO CLOSE DOOR ON ABANDONED HOUSING - Daily News

POL AIMS TO CLOSE DOOR ON ABANDONED HOUSING

LAURA WILLIAMS DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER. New York Daily News. New York, N.Y.: Oct 3, 2004. pg. 3

Copyright Daily News, L.P. Oct 3, 2004

KEVAN ABRAHAMS is on a mission to fix up every weed-choked, boarded-up abandoned house in Roosevelt."The problem is, every time one gets renovated and sold, two more pop up," said Abrahams, a Nassau County legislator whose district includes the town.Neighbors complain that the dilapidated homes hurt property values and threaten public safety.Abrahams launched the Abandoned House Program in April, and so far he and his staff have tracked down the owners of about 15 abandoned houses to rehabilitate them, he said.Until 28 Valentine Place was renovated this summer, students were afraid to walk by the boarded-up eyesore on their way to school.Unsavory characters hung out on the rotting front porch, and raccoons scurried in and out a broken window in the back, the students said."At night after football games, we would walk another way home so we wouldn’t have to pass it," said Kamaya Wilson, 15, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School.After Abrahams’ office called the federal Housing and Urban Development agency, which owns the property, workers revamped the place. They put in a new, bigger porch and installed new windows and fresh yellow siding.Now the house, which has a for-sale sign out front, just needs a lawn.Still, many more vacant homes remain on the to-do list.One of the worst is 45 Cumberland Ave., which was the scene of a fire in February 2003.The roof has several holes, and an attic window gapes open. Last week, the back door was ajar.Owners of the well-tended houses with flower beds and trimmed lawns that flank the abandoned wreck worry about their property values."Who’s going to want to buy here when there’s a burned-out piece of garbage down the block?" said Daniel Markham, 43, a Roosevelt fire commissioner who lives three doors down."We need to eliminate these eyesores and turn them into revenue- producing properties."Abrahams is tracking down the owner; county records indicate it’s a Denise Jackson. Many of these blighted houses belong to out-of- state banks that have foreclosed on them, Abrahams said.Roosevelt, just 1 square mile in area, has a disproportionate number of abandoned properties.Neighbors have tipped off Abrahams’ office to 38 properties since the program started. But at least a dozen were not actually abandoned; the tipsters were either mistaken, or they were complaining about their neighbors’ poor maintenance, Abrahams said.Like 45 Cumberland Ave., 24 Willet Place suffered a fire over a year ago, and languished empty until this summer when it was gutted, refurbished and sold to a new family."It’s definitely an improvement," said Barry Nelson, 40, a security guard who lives next door with four small children. "We had two abandoned properties on this block - next door and right across the street - but they’ve both been fixed up."Driving by the once-abandoned 10 Matson Road, now a tidy house with beds of chrysanthemums out front, Abrahams said, "We have one new homeowner in the community, and we got rid of an eyesore."To report an abandoned property in Roosevelt, neighbors can call Abrahams at (516) 571-6201.


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