Thursday, September 22, 2016

Section 8 Used to Mean Crazy. Sometimes It Still Does.

Guns found in home hit by gunfireIn yet another incident, five shots were fired at 1410 Ferry St., one of them hitting a neighboring residence another hitting a parked car. The shooting took place about 3:56 p.m. on 20 Sept. 2016, about ten minutes after the school bus had dropped off a load of kids at that corner, including three sisters aged 7, 8, and 9 who lived at the targeted house.
This is only one block north and three blocks east of where spree killers passed through town a while back. Fortunately, the TOFian granddaughter no longer lives in the neighborhood.
The shooter was in a black or dark blue sedan, apparently driven by a woman and carrying three males. There were four people on the front porch at the time, including the 8-year old girl, who was doing her homework.

Shirley Tompkins, who recently moved to the property that backs on the target, said she picked up her elementary-school-age son at the bus stop on Tuesday. The boy was changing clothes when her younger son chirped from the backyard, "Daddy, Daddy, fireworks!" As a second set of gunshots rang out, the father grabbed the child and rushed him inside.

Meanwhile, at the neighboring house at 1418 Ferry, a woman said her children, aged 5, 9, and 11, "had just walked in the door. They literally had to hit the floor." Gunfire hit her door and also went into the wall of her home.

"There was a blood-curdling scream" from the porch at 1410, said the neighbor, who moved to the neighborhood in January from Brooklyn. The child yelled that she was scared.  "I heard a pop, pop, pop," the neighbor said. "I didn't know there was a bullet hole in the door" until police knocked. "If one of my kids would have been hurt, it would have been a wrap," adding she was ready to take matters into her own hands.

Sarah Pearce, who lives 1410 and is the mother of the three girls (and two other children), was called home from work by her fiance.

No one was hit officially (though TOF heard it through the grapevine that one porch-sitter was wounded in the leg). Although people were home at both residences at the time of the gunfire, investigators received -- surprise! -- very little cooperation from witnesses, some of whom fled before officers arrived. Apparently, lives don't matter if no one is actually killed. Yet it would seem prudent to identify and round up the shooters before they do in fact kill anyone.

No policemen were involved in the shooting, so no protests are planned that TOF knows of.

Police believed that 1401 Ferry was specifically targeted, but would not say why to the reporter. That 'why' may have something to do with the fleeing and mute witnesses. Or with several previous police visits. (A neighbor recounted being attacked by one of the three pit bulls among the six dogs that lived in the fenced yard behind 1410 Ferry St., where there were several piles of dog feces.)
Asked why someone would want to shoot her house, Pearce said, "I have no idea." The police hung around waiting for a search warrant for the house.
When officers later executed a narcotics search warrant at the home, they found two loaded semi-automatic handguns and marijuana.

Tajah Jasper, her boyfriend, was arrested and charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. (He was later released because he has no criminal record and can legally own the guns. But since he is not on the lease, he is out of there, and his pit bulls with him.) Presumably, the loaded pistols are gone, too. Loaded pistols and children. What a combination!

This may have had some connection with why someone tried to shoot up the house. You think?
Due to unsanitary conditions in the home -- Trash was piled up outside the house on Wednesday morning, the back yard stunk of dog feces and some window coverings featured towels and plastic bags -- the Easton Codes Department shuttered the half of the brick duplex, police said. So everyone is out of there, now. This may have some connection with Ms. Pearce's earlier claim to fame.

The management company who runs the property for the guy who is buying it from the current owner says that when Pearce moved in with two dogs and three kids she was keeping the house okay, but then Jasper moved in and things went bad to worse. Six dogs is too many for one house, apparently. The landlord cannot babysit the tenant or waltz in at any time to check on things. "Despite some of our best efforts, people are going to do what they do."

When he was in the home about three months ago — after a previous visit from Easton police — the landlord counseled his tenant on things she needed to do to keep her lease and retain her Section 8 voucher. The place was still in "OK" shape, he said, despite a few neighbor complaints.

"She's had warnings," Ockerman said. "I've done walk-throughs with her. ... I explained whatever was going on (in) this place," she was putting the lease in jeopardy.

Well, it's too late now.

Meanwhile, this sort of thing is slowly (or swiftly) poisoning the West Ward.
Most of the homes on the block appear well-kept, with displays of plants -- some of them intricate -- on several porches. The other half of the double has numerous wind chimes precisely placed above the entry stairs.
American flags fly from several porches. The landmark is the huge water tower on the west side of 15th Street in Wilson Borough.
Randy Bernhard, 49, has owned a home for 16 years around the corner of South Raspberry Street.
"This has been a quiet block until certain people moved into the neighborhood," he said. "I'm not afraid to walk the streets."
He said he blames landlords who now possess what for years were owner-occupied homes.
Thomas Lynn owns 1410 Ferry St., Northampton County records show. But he said Wednesday afternoon he's in the process of selling it to another man, who has been handling the rental since Nov. 1. Lynn said that person hired a property manager who allowed it to be qualified as Section 8 housing and brought in new tenants.
"I'd never rent to people like that," he said.
Prior to checking on it Tuesday night, Lynn said he hadn't seen it in several months and the last time he was inside "it was in perfect condition."
 If Lynn speaks sooth, that shows how fast a property can go to hell under this sort of owner-landlord-rental-vouchering arrangement.


  1. Similar things happening to the area where I spent the latter half of my childhood - houses turning into rentals, and then Section 8 moves in. Crime has risen steadily, and the schools are going downhill. The daughter of a close friend is graduating next year from my high school alma mater, North Central (so descriptive!). When I was there, 1986-1990, a fight was something that happened perhaps twice a year, if that.

    Now, it's a near-daily occurrence.

  2. A few notes from a rental house and multiunit residential landlord in the midwest:

    I will not touch section 8. It is not worth the hassle nor the kind of lowlifes you regularly get. Period.

    When you're dealing in C and D class rentals, which it seems is what these are, 3rd party management companies, at least here, and I find it hard to believe it isn't near universal, couldn't give a poop less about conditions, quality of tenants, making the property more valuable, etc. They get paid anyway. Any increase in value of the property for them is more work than the reward is worth. Besides, they usually control hundreds, sometimes thousands of units, so a couple that go under is no real loss for them. And these landlords aren't the big money people anyway. The real cash is made in scoring management contracts with out of state owners or, even better, out of country owners. In our area HUGE amounts of investment money is pouring in from Australia and going into multi-unit rentals. Managers collect the checks and do little else. Why should they care?

    That's why myself and the investors I work with here have do ALL of our own management.

    Have a STRICT "no pets" policy. Make sure any violation of creates a breech in their agreement and they forfeit all monies. Enforce this MERCILESSLY.

    Have a STRICT policy on payments. Missed or are certain number of days late? Evict. Again, enforce this WITHOUT MERCY.

    If any of this strikes you as hard-hearted, congrats, you don't belong in the rental business. You aren't running a charity shelter and those people are NOT your 'friends'. The moment you allow their problems to become YOUR problems, you have set sail for bankruptcy court. Enjoy your trip.

    Pro tip: If available (again, at least in my area) FILL your properties with Hispanic immigrants. Best... C Class... Tenants... EVER. They pay on time, they work like mad to keep their jobs, they don't murder each other over stupid slights like 'disrespect', they will alert you if someone starts trying to sell drugs and they look out for each other's kids. Only downsides is that sometimes they just move out and vanish, sometimes get too loud for the neighbors, or they will try to sublet their place to 5-10+ more people. (VERY important you keep and eye on that last one).

    Carry on.


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