Sheepshead Bay ‘zombie homes’ plagued by squatters, mold, and feral cats

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Photo gallery

Used needles can be seen inside a Lake Avenue court home.
Missy Haggerty stands next to used heroin needles inside a zombie home.
Missy Haggerty asks an HPD employee why these homes are still decaying eight years after Hurricane Sandy.
Cats are perched on a front porch of a zombie home. At least 30 stray cats could be seen walking around Lake Avenue.
One of Zalemi Weber’s vacant homes, where black mold is growing and needles are strewn about in inside.
Some of the used hyperdermic needles that were used inside a zombie home.

Sheepshead Bay homeowners claim their block is plagued by three so-called “zombie houses,” derelict homes left vacant since Hurricane Sandy, which have become mold-infested blights occupied by drug addicts and packs of feral cats.

“I have noticed needles in the yard and in the houses along with make shift beds,” said Missy Haggerty, a third-generation Lake Avenue resident.

The properties located at 4, 5, and 14a Lake Ave. — part of the “courts” area of low-lying side streets between Shore Parkway and Emmons Avenue — were abandoned by one Zalman Weber after suffering sever flood damage during the 2012 super storm, and city officials have sought for years to contact him in an effort to either remediate, or demolish the dilapidated homes, according to Sheepshead Bay Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

In the meantime, his properties remain in a state of ruin. Throughout the wreckage of 5 Lake Ave., family pictures, baby’s clothes, and moldy stuffed animals remain abandoned by Weber’s former tenants, who fled from Sandy’s 90 miles-per-hour wind gusts and 14-foot storm surges nearly eight years ago, according to Haggerty.

“This is somebody’s belongings from Sandy, they up and left it. They were the renters,” Haggerty said.

And mixed in with the haunting collection of deserted household items are scores of used hypodermic needles, which squatters have discarded seemingly at random. During an Aug. 8 visit, this reporter found syringes littering the front yards, entrance ways, and floors of the abandoned homes, and piled on make-shift couches and atop soiled mattresses there.

And while locals aren’t thrilled by the prospect of heroin addicts shooting up down the block, the toxic black mold that infects the air around the forsaken zombie homes is far worse, according to Haggerty, who lives one door down from 14a Lake Ave., which is so mold infested, she avoids opening her windows.

“Let’s say I want to open my windows while I clean my house, the mold spores are airborne and will get back into my home,” said Haggerty.

Deutsch now says he’s given up trying to contact Weber, and is working with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to seal the homes at some point this month.

Officials at the city housing agency decided to seal the home at 6 Lake Ave., which is not owned by Weber, following an Aug. 8 inspection, according to a spokeswoman for the department.

The Department of Buildings will additionally deploy inspectors to conduct structural stability inspections of all four buildings to determine if they pose a hazard neighboring properties, the spokeswoman said.

Reach reporter Chandler Kidd at or by calling (718) 260–2525. Follow her at
Updated 11:07 am, August 12, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Denise from Sheepshead Bay says:
Instead of sealing up those houses, how about cleaning them out and getting rid of the mold first? Common Sense huh?
Aug. 12, 2019, 8:32 pm
Missy from Sheepshead bay says:
Denise you are right! But they have so much mold in them that their actually rotten away ..if they dont knock them down people will get sick & they will one day collapse, hopefully no one gets hurt or even killed...its a joke
Aug. 12, 2019, 9:38 pm
Brooklyn from Sheepshead Bay says:
The build it back program is a joke. First run out of the Mayors office and then moved to NYC Design & Construction where DDC has mismanaged the program from day 1. Mayors office needs to explain how on earth there is not a full time DDC Commissioner since she also has a day job as the head of the School Construction Authority.
Aug. 13, 2019, 10:27 pm
Chris Denver from Brooklyn says:
If no one lives there, it isn't a "home" any more. It's just a "house".
Aug. 14, 2019, 9:33 am
Robby from Sheepshead Bay says:
Taxpaying home owners and neighborhood citizens are not Heeded by government officials agencies or community boards. No one with any power to help will without constant pressure...or public shaming. It’s frustrating and sad!
Aug. 17, 2019, 11:48 am

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