Bayside residents continue fight to evict squatters from 38th Avenue home –

Several Bayside residents joined the former Queens politician Tony Avelle met on Sunday August 7 to discuss how to get rid of squatters occupying a house on 38th Avenue.

Since an incident last March in which fire were fired in the neighborhood by private individuals who were renting the house to 208-16 38th Ave. squatters via Airbnb, several area residents have been in contact with local leaders, including Senator John Liu, Congresswoman Grace Meng and Congressman Ed Braunstein, trying to get the squatters evicted.

Although they are still working towards this goal, some progress has been made. Con Edison cut the electric and gas service to the house, and Braunstein is now looking to do the same with the water service there.

“While progress has been made in getting Con Ed to disconnect electric and gas service, the job needs to be completed,” said local resident Stephen Markowski. “Several neighbors as well as local officials spoke with the mayor Special Application Office (OSE) and were able to obtain a [search] warrant that they were able to execute on July 1. They found that the gas and electricity were bypassed and there was a finished basement apartment that was rented out on Airbnb. That night, [the squatters] came with a truck and started loading furniture and other things from the house.

According to Markowski, the house was to be seized and auctioned on June 16. However, on June 15, a notice of bankruptcy was filed. The house’s previous owner, Joe Carollo, told her that he wasn’t the one who dropped her off. This raised concerns that the squatters falsified the documents with Carollo’s information when filing for bankruptcy. The filing put the foreclosure on hold.

According to Avella, the bank whose rights Carollo claims to have waived must formally obtain the property before having it sealed by the Buildings Department. He also pointed out that police cannot legally evict squatters until the landlord declares that no one should live there.

While the squatters continue to occupy the house, they do not actually live there. This was further reinforced by the fact that they loaded furniture and other household items onto a van late at night. The Queens District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing the squatters, the home and the bankruptcy filing.

Markowski speculated that squatters continue to return to the property even if they don’t live there, as they hope to be paid by the bank that would own the property in return for leaving. He pointed out that this was not the only property these people were squatting in, noting that they were doing so at another property at 1204 New Hyde Park Rd. on Long Island.

“I spoke to the mayor’s office and the head of the Community Affairs Unit (CAU),” Avella said. “CAU needs to sit down and coordinate with the OSE, Mayor’s office, building department, fire and police. At present, [these departments] do not coordinate.

Although Avella confirmed to the offices of Liu, Meng and Braunstein that they each remain involved in this issue, he also recommended that community members hold another press conference to keep the pressure on the city to she acts. He also said he would help by inviting relevant agencies and some elected officials to the press conference on behalf of the district. The hope is that this will increase the city’s response.

Avella encouraged neighborhood members to continue to contact these agencies and leaders. According to Avella, continuing to contact them could help move things forward by prioritizing them.

The squatters were previously tenants of Carollo. When Carollo left, they reportedly stopped paying rent. They spent about two years and eight months checking the residence.

Community leaders plan to hold another press conference on the issue on September 10 at 11 a.m. at the corner of 209th Street and 38th Avenue.

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