Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Squalor in Newburyport

"A 7-year-old girl, mother, and grandmother were ordered to leave a Newburyport home after police officers found the property in “deplorable” condition. Police went to 8 Strong St. on Sunday evening for a welfare check following an anonymous tip from the state’s child abuse hotline, according to a statement from the Newburyport police department. The kitchen counters were covered in trash and clothes, and animal feces were strewn across the floor. Some of the rooms were inaccessible, and the safety conditions were “extremely dangerous even for the most fit and able person,” the statement said. A dog and cat were also rescued from the home by an animal control officer, the statement said. Newburyport Director of Public Health Robert F. Bracey said the house will be condemned until it is thoroughly cleaned. Newburyport Mayor Donna D. Holaday said “this is not the first time this has happened in the city, and it is very sad when it happens, particularly when it involves a young child.”

Haven't you ever seen the show?

"Two face charges after child found in ‘deplorable’ Newburyport home" by Monica Disare Globe Correspondent  July 08, 2015

NEWBURYPORT -- Two people in Newburyport are facing reckless endangerment charges after authorities found them raising a 7-year-old girl what they called a “deplorable” home strewn with animal waste, garbage, and debris.

Kristen D. Paquette, 32, and Debra A. Paquette, 54, are the mother and grandmother of the child who was found in the now-condemned home on Strong Street.

Newburyport police released pictures of exposed bedsprings, damaged walls, a sink overflowing with trash, and rooms so cluttered with broken toys and books they were practically impassible.

Sergeant Matthew Simons said those images “are worth a thousand words.”

Simons said there are no prior police complaints at the house or involving either of the two women. Neither woman has any open court cases, said Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

Police said Kristen and Debra Paquette will be summonsed to court for their reckless endangerment charge. The date of their court appearance has not yet been determined. The endangerment charge carries a maximum penalty of 2½ years incarceration.

“The primary interest of all agencies involved continues to be for the well-being of the minor child and helping connect the family with the services that they need,” police said in a statement.

The City Health Department made an initial, verbal condemnation of the property on Sunday, when authorities first discovered the unsanitary conditions, Robert F. Bracey, the director of public health in Newburyport, said in a written statement.

A formal order notice of condemnation was issued on Tuesday following an inspection, he said.

Bracey said the health department has not heard any prior formal complaints about this property in the six years he has worked there.

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has received a report of the incident and they are investigating, spokeswoman Michelle Hillman said in a statement.

Neighbors said the same family has lived in the house on Strong Street for generations. One neighbor, a member of the Newburyport Preservation Trust, who declined to give his name because of his own close ties to the neighborhood, said that his son used to play in the house about 15 years ago. At that time, he described the house as “messy” but not “squalor.”

He said about 10 years ago, he noticed that more than two dozen cats were living a car parked in the driveway of the house.

The neighborhood has changed for the better, he said, since he moved there 32 years ago.

“What you’re seeing down there is a snapshot of the old Newburyport,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the home was cordoned off by caution tape. Drapes had been pulled over the windows, blocking a view of the inside. The driveway next to the house brimmed with discarded items, including a tarpaulin, an old rocking horse, and exercise equipment.

A large plant had grown over the front door and front window of the home, which is one of the smallest on a street full of large, old houses. The brown clapboard exterior was cracked and chipped.

Walking by the condemned house Wednesday, Dan Ahern said he was surprised to learn of the conditions in his neighborhood.

“It’s just a mystery. It looks like any other house,” said Ahern. 69, who does not know the family. “It’s sad. People get lost in life.”