When 69-year old Navy veteran Phillip Williams left his home in West Hempstead in December, 2014 to have knee surgery in Florida, he thought he wouldn’t be gone long, but he had knee and heart complications and didn’t get back until August.
What he found when he got back was that the house he lived in since he was six months old had been demolished with all his precious possessions. At first he thought there had been a fire, but that wasn’t the case. The town government had come in and plowed everything down because neighbors called and complained that it was unkempt and negatively impacted the neighborhood.
The town was declared unfit for habitation. They posted notices on the door but he was in Florida and didn’t see them. He went to Florida because he had a friend there who was going to help take care of him during his rehabilitation.
Mr. Williams has begun a legal battle with the suburban New York town. He wants reimbursement for the house and all the belongings.
His late wife’s engagement ring, his photos, his new bike, were all destroyed.
The town sent notices but they were sent to banks he never did business with, Mr. Williams said.
“I’m angry and I’m upset. It’s just wrong on so many levels,” he said “My mortgage was up to date, my property taxes were up to date … everything was current and fine.”
Mr. William’s neighbors are the neighbors from Hell, it seems.
“The house was in terrible condition for a long time,” next door neighbor Keylin Escobar said. “Nobody really lived in the house; the house was abandoned. Everyone who came over to visit, people always say, ‘What’s going on with this house?'”
What right do people have to take another person’s property because they don’t like the way it’s being cared for?
Williams has filed a notice of claim, the first step in a lawsuit against the town, and also is fighting for public records he believes may show what happened. Williams says town officials wouldn’t tell him the name of the demolition company or the date the house was torn down.
The town government won’t even give him the information? When did we let government get so out of control? People think they can call the government, get someone’s house torn down, giving government tremendous power, and remain unscathed. Some day it will be their house.
“You see people who went through a tornado or a flood and they say they lost everything, but that’s not preventable,” Williams said. “This was preventable. The town took my house.”
Williams has also filed a criminal complaint.