Several abandoned homes in Greenport Village were declared a public safety risk and boarded up and fenced off after identifying a group of homeless people living in the area, according to police and village officials.

The properties include a badly burned building on Johnson Court, an abandoned home on the corner of Third and North Streets and a number of homes on the corner of Fourth and Wiggins Streets, the owners of which were recently employees of the Village Remove it after boarding up the house.

According to Greenport Mayor Kevin Stuessi, the village is seeking bids to demolish the Johnson Court and North Street homes at the expense of the owners listed on the village tax bill.

The village is also seeking permission from the court to clear the debris-strewn yard at 299 Third St. across from the village hall and restore the damaged exterior of the home that has long been neglected by the owners.

Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said the group was well known to local police and officials estimated the group may have ranged from eight to 20 people, including one who recently stabbed another during an altercation. one person.

“That stabbing happened between two homeless individuals that we deal with regularly,” Sheriff Flatley said. “Alcohol abuse and [had] Too much alcohol, so they spend most of the day together. Those involved have declined to accuse each other.

Dedicated police outreach and efforts to securely house the individuals have so far been unsuccessful, the chief said.

“With this group, we’ve tried several times to provide them with emergency housing or whatever housing the government can provide them. They’re not willing to accept that.”

Sheriff Flatley said the Town of Southold officers assigned to Greenport had been in direct contact with the individuals for some time.

“He had a good idea of ​​who lived where and what their homelessness was and the root causes of their homelessness,” he said.

Local experts say there has been a significant increase in the number of homeless people across the county.

“Certainly, we do see a significant increase in the number of homeless people throughout Suffolk County — including the East Side — by 2022, and that trend has continued to rise since the start of COVID,” says Homeless said Dan Shea, Executive Director of Returnee Outreach Moline Haven. Planned to serve the East End with headquarters in Riverhead.

“We’ve seen our numbers – and increased demand for our services – increase dramatically, especially in the last year.”

Chief Flatley said the group, all men, moved from place to place around the village.

“For a while, they were bouncing around and sleeping in tents in the woods near the tracks,” he said. “They stay almost anywhere they can get shelter from the weather, [including] Abandoned house among owners. We’ve been there on various occasions and found sleeping bags, food and what they left inside. But you clear them from one place and they go to another. “

The men also “have been using people’s garages” to sleep, the official said.

“As soon as they find a house that’s unoccupied, they immediately try to use the property,” he said.

An abandoned house in Johnson Court is ready for demolition (Credit: Chris Francescani)

Mr Stuessi described the situation as sad and dangerous.

“The people who were sleeping in some of these abandoned houses were also hanging out in Mitchell Park behind the carousel and drinking a lot of alcohol,” the mayor said. “The police are aware of that. They’re doing what they can. It’s sad in the sense that these people have nowhere to go.”

Still, he said the dilapidated and abandoned homes posed a danger not only to those who lived there overnight, but also to children nearby.

“You’ve got a whole bunch of kids running around here,” the mayor told Johnson Court of a father who lives next door to a house that burned down three years ago.

“People shouldn’t be living there,” he said. “It needs to be demolished so your family is safe.”

Mr Stuessi gave reporters a tour of the Johnson Court property. Looking in through the broken windows, it was evident that the interior was filled with construction debris and broken glass, with holes in the walls and most of the windows were broken.

“It’s just tragic to think that people who live here have nowhere to go,” Mr Stuci said. “But what if someone has a drinking problem and they stumble upon this late at night?” he said, shaking his head at the thought.

Chief Flatley said he was pleased to see that action was being taken to isolate abandoned homes with boards and fencing.

“I trust this village,” he said. “They’re making a concerted effort now to try to fortify and fence some of these abandoned homes and make the owners responsible for at least protecting them.”

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