Single Father Upset After Protesters 'Occupy' His House

ForeclosuresFamilyMortgagesFinancial and Business ServicesEast New YorkBrooklyn (New York City)Brownsville

A single father of two daughters, who was forced out of his house in Brooklyn by Bank of America, is upset the Occupy Wall Street movement has now moved into it.

Wise Ahadzi, an immigrant from Ghana, said police notified him last month that a homeless family affiliated with the "Occupy" cause was living at his old address at 702 Vermont Street in East New York. "I lost my house, because I couldn't afford the mortgage anymore," Ahadzi told PIX 11. "I lost my job in a nursing home and stuff like that and there wasn't enough money coming in."

Ahadzi said he tried to negotiate with the bank to salvage the house he bought in 2007 for $424, 500, but he was forced to foreclose on the home in 2009, the year he lost his job and stopped making timely, mortgage payments. "I have everything still in there," Ahadzi told PIX, "my bed, my dressers."

Last month, on December 6th, activist, Alfredo Carrasquillo, his wife, and two young children were greeted with great fanfare, as they announced they were moving into the house at 702 Vermont, with signs outside saying, "Foreclose on banks, not people." Ahadzi said he ran over to the home during the rally, asking for help to regain the house, and organizers said they would try to work with him. Carrasquillo, who works for a non-profit called VOCAL-NY, told PIX "We had no idea of the prior owner's history." Carrasquillo said the East New York community was happy to see him arrive, because the Ahadzi house had been vacant for several years, and "people were complaining of illegal activity in the house. We thought we were helping the community." Ahadzi, it turned out, had been forced to move to his brother's basement about a mile away, before he found a two-bedroom apartment in Brownsville for himself and his two daughters, ages 3 and 10.

Ahadzi said he was shocked when he toured the house. "When I went inside, I saw all the walls had been taken down!" The group told him this was because there was dangerous mold on the walls. And now, it turns out, the homeless family that was applauded last month, for finally finding "a place to call home", is not living at 702 Vermont! The father, Alfredo Carrasquillo, told PIX he stays there most nights, but there was a problem with renovations, "so due to that, I didn't feel it was a save environment for my children to live there permanently."

About 15 minutes after we knocked on the door, an activist from Pennsylvania, Jordan, came outside. When we asked him about the owner fighting to save his house, Jordan replied, "The people staying here are in solidarity with him. It's the bank that's at fault. There's no sympathy when a man loses his job?! Do we not give him a chance to get a new one--or recuperate?"

While PIX was at the house, a couple of members from the Green Party showed up with blankets and socks. Gloria Mattera said, "We obviously support the idea that people shouldn't have their homes foreclosed, when the banks are bailed out with billions of dollars."

On Monday night, Wise Ahadzi was returning from a trip upstate with his daughters, wishing the Occupy movement would put its energies behind him. The bank acknowledges he still, technically, owns the house. "Why give this to a homeless person?" Ahadzi asked. "Why not the owner of the house?" Monday evening, Alfredo Carrasquillo told PIX, "We have tried to reach out to Mr. Wise. We're more than happy to help out in any way we can."

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