Who’s Getting Foreclosed on in Brooklyn Today? A Third-Generation Home-Dweller


The Voice is starting a new feature several times a week. As foreclosures continue unabated across the nation, the Voice will be profiling the foreclosures that happen every week right here in the five boroughs. We’ll be looking closely at the properties facing foreclosure, the public auctions where those buildings are sold to the highest bidder, and the individuals facing eviction in the process.

Last Friday, the Voice wrote about a singing protest at the Queen’s Supreme Court by activist group Organizing For Occupation that tried to prevent the foreclosure auctions of three Queens properties. Swift arrests by court guards ended the protests, and sales proceeded as usual with the three properties — 138-55 233 Street, 99-11 193 Road, and 187-16 Linden Boulevard — going for $345,000, $240,000, and $255,000, respectively.

Well, the cycle continues today, as seven Brooklyn properties are going on sale this afternoon at the Kings County Supreme Court at 3 p.m. As we found out last October, sometimes those being foreclosed on sometimes have no idea of their impending evictions — they could be innocent renters unaware of murky court procedures or the landlord’s financial troubles.

We visited four properties yesterday, and though three of them were already abandoned, we met a woman who claims to be a helpless victim of predatory loans and a brutal court system.

Debbie Hailey is the owner of a three-residential family home located on 876 Greene Avenue, a five-minute walk from Tompkins Park North. Having been purchased by her grandfather in 1943 and passed on to Daisy Reid, Hailey’s mother, the property has been with her family for three generations.

Hailey said her mother was victim of a predatory loan.

“After my grandparents passed, my mother took out a loan to keep her property,” Hailey said. “But we never saw a penny from that loan.”

Hailey said she and her mother fought the foreclosure procedure for years, going to government officials and even the offices of Al Sharpton’s Harlem offices, but after spending most of 2011 caring for her ill mother and her eventual death, she no longer has the energy to fight the system.

“I have no more fight in me,” said Hailey, in her fifties, who organizes children’s parties for income. “I’ve just applied for bankruptcy, and once they sell the house, I’ll look for a place to live.”

The other three properties we visited that are scheduled for sale tomorrow seem to be abandoned.
The first, a four-story residential building on 1172 Putnam Avenue— about a 10-minute walk from Hailey’s place — has a broken doorbell, and repeated knocks had no answers.

At 508 Waverly Avenue, a commercial building attached to Achievement First Endeavor Elementary School, has a padlock on the door and no sign on the door. Repeated knocks went unanswered, and Jose, an employee at the school next door, said the building hasn’t been occupied in months.

“But even when people were there, you could never tell what they were doing,” he added.

The third address, 619 Hancock Street, located six blocks north of the Utica exit in Bushwick, is a beat-up abandoned garage of sorts.

We will attend the auction this afternoon to check the statuses of these properties — and how much they sell for — especially Hailey’s.