Bank to Unseal Boarded-Up Home for NJ Man

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Herbert Shivers was hospitalized for weeks because of a heart problem, only to come home and find his home boarded up. The bank now says it will help him gain access after NBC New York's inquiry. (Published Friday, May 27, 2011)

    A New Jersey man who came home from the hospital to find his house boarded up will be able to get into the building to retrieve his belongings and treasured photos after NBC New York's inquiry into the case.

    Herbert Shivers, 76, left a lengthy hospital stay last summer and found his East Orange, N.J., home sealed up with plywood, with his possessions inside.

    Since then, he had been trying to find out who boarded it up and how he could get his things back.

    "I want to get my stuff out," Shivers said, sitting on the steps of a house he called home for fifteen years.

    The retired civil servant's name is still on the mailbox, but his treasured possessions are locked inside.

    "Pictures of me. Pictures of my daughter. Shoes that fit my foot only. I'm a Bigfoot. Clothes that fit me only. Everything. My life," Shivers said.

    It's an often-overlooked problem  -- renters become victims of the housing crisis when they rent from landlords who default on mortgage payments.

    Shivers said he had been paying a landlord $500 a month in rent. Then the landlord, Antonio Brown, stopped returning calls from tenants.

    East Orange tax records show Brown walked away from his mortgage obligations last year, leaving outstanding tax and water bills totaling more than $21,000. TD Bank Commercial was the last financial institution to make a tax payment.

    After NBC New York contacted TD Bank, a spokeswoman emailed a statement verifying TD Bank holds a lien on the property, and said it would seek to remedy the situation.

    "We were not aware that Mr. Shivers was a tenant of the property, and we will do our best to help him gain access to the property as soon as possible to retrieve any personal belongings. We apologize for any inconvenience he has experienced," said Jennifer Morneau, a TD Bank spokeswoman.