Jamaica residents say they have asked the city to do something about the mounds of trash piling up in their neighborhood for years with little to no response, and now they are looking for anyone to help clean up the area. NY1's Ruschell Boone looks into the issue in part one of her four part series.
It's unsightly, but not uncommon to see garbage piled high in and around 107th Avenue near Sutphin Boulevard.
"Every time I see this it makes me more and more frustrated," one resident said.
The area is littered with tires, mattresses and all other types of trash.
Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) said the residents are ultimately to blame.
"These are people from our community dumping," Wills said.
The dumping started more than a decade ago in abandoned lots, but it got significantly worse during the recent economic downturn, when Jamaica became the epicenter of the city's growing number of housing foreclosures.
People now litter and drop garbage on the streets and sidewalks as well as the numerous vacant lots. Some residents say the problem is spreading to other areas with very little crackdown from the Department of Sanitation.
The department has said that it is doing its part to maintain the area.
But longtime residents who have been meeting informally to try to find solutions to the problem said not enough is being done.
"We are forced to live in conditions like animals," resident Pamela Hazel said at a meeting.
Hazel has complaint letters about the issue dating back to 2002. She said numerous calls to 311, the community board and the sanitation department have done little to improve the situation in her area.
When NY1 told DSNY about the 10 trash sites we saw, the agency responded immediately. The owners all received summonses and the city said if they didn't clear their lots, the department would do it and send them the bill.
"Unfortunately it's only when the fourth branch of government comes in, meaning the media, that these people start running around and doing very little," Hazel said.
But the sanitation department said that isn't true.
The agency said it's already working on the issue and enforcement officers are in Jamaica on a daily basis.
Residents said if that's the case, they're not making much of a difference.