January 16th, 2011
Statement by Alfredo Carrasquillo, VOCAL-NY community organizer, on 702 Vermont St.
“On December 6, I moved into a vacant, Bank of America-foreclosed property with the support of neighbors on Vermont St. because my family — victims of Michael Bloomberg’s housing policies and the big banks’ callous disregard for people — had been homeless for years. The support I received from the community was overwhelming, in part because they have also been victims of those same policies. The staggering number of vacant properties in East New York has destabilized the community by lowering property values, increasing crime, and leading to even more foreclosures. We all want the same thing: families who need housing living in these vacant houses.
I invited members of Occupy Wall Street to inhabit the house with me, until it was safe for my family to move in, as a defense against the mayor’s policy of using the police department to defend property over people.
I remain committed to ensuring my family has a home to call its own, and to changing the policies of Mike Bloomberg and the big banks so we can eliminate the vacant properties destroying East New York. This has always been our intention, and we look forward to working with anyone who shares that same goal. We have met with Wise Azadhi, community leaders, and housing advocates multiple times, and will continue to work with him so neither his family nor mine is homeless, and so that 702 does not sit vacant.”
Statement by Doyle Coleman, a neighbor on Vermont St. in East New York.
“For the last three years, the house at 702 Vermont St. has sat vacant. As a homeowner who lives a couple doors down, I have firsthand knowledge of the problems this caused. I’ve spent my own money and volunteered time alongside other families on our block to try to maintain the property, but it hasn’t been enough to stop it from falling into disrepair and becoming a hub for criminal activity. These are common problems with vacant properties in my neighborhood.
My neighbors and I welcomed Alfredo, his family, and Occupy Wall Street to our neighborhood because we have been abandoned by Mayor Bloomberg and the predatory big banks. It feels like we are under attack with so many families in the neighborhood losing their homes and vacant properties taking over our blocks. We need families like Alfredo’s in these properties, and hope they continue to come.”