Slope woman left homeless by house collapse has been sleeping on her stoop: Neighbors

The Brooklyn Paper
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The owner of a run-down Park Slope townhouse is sleeping on the building’s stoop several weeks after the interior collapsed and the city chained the front door shut, neighbors say.

Joan Turken has been crashing on the front steps of her landmarked First Street row house since the partial collapse on Aug. 2 left her homeless, according to neighbors who say that she and the house have seen better days.

“The whole situation is awful,” said First Street resident Julie Markes, who lives next door to Turken. “I feel sorry for Joan.”

Turken left the scene of the August cave-in wearing cuffs after a cop fell through a floor in the house and she refused to leave the wreckage, according to authorities and witnesses. Soon thereafter, the Department of Buildings declared the house between Seventh and Eighth avenues structurally unstable, citing rotted floor joists and a decaying roof.

Residents say that Turken, who has owned the vine-covered building since 1992, according to the Department of Finance, lives alone and has an open case with Adult Protective Services, a state agency serving physically and mentally impaired adults.

The situation shows no signs of improving any time soon, despite the apparent involvement of multiple state offices.

Adult Protective Services would not confirm whether Turken is a client, citing privacy concerns, but a spokeswoman said that in situations similar to this one the agency petitions to appoint a guardian, a process that can take up to a year, and the buildings department will not reopen the house until substantial repairs have been made, according to a spokesman.

A woman believed to be Turken was not interested in discussing the snowballing problems.

“It’s none of your f------ business,” the woman said when approached outside the house by a reporter for this paper.

The house has been decrepit for years and Turken was hit with a $2,500 fine in April for building code violations after this newspaper discovered more than 100 tin cans, buckets, and other containers on the roof of the building, a collection that had neighbors scared to walk down the street for fear of being hit with a flying pail.

Now, though, block residents say they are just hoping that Turken can get help.

“A lot of the neighbors are concerned,” said neighbor Anne Schotter. “It’s very sad.”

Block residents said they have been caring for Turken’s two cats that have been roaming around in residents’ backyards since the lockout.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

brklynmind from Downtown says:
Sad but a simple solution - she is clearly mentally ill and should be declared incompetent and put in a hospital.
Sept. 17, 2013, 8:46 am
Realist from BK ny says:
The term is "incapacitated," not "incompetent," and courts don't just fling people into psych wards and claim their property.

I'd hope that she gets a guardian who'll protect her property interest (or proceeds thereof) instead of letting wolves benefit.
Sept. 17, 2013, 11:04 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Because anyone living in their own filth is not incompetent.
Sept. 17, 2013, 11:11 am
Realist from bK NY says:
There are degrees of incapacitation and a behavior might be remediable. Homelessness is exacerbating her situation. APS et al have dropped the ball somewhere.
Sept. 17, 2013, 11:34 am
petebklyn from cobblehill says:
Blame it on the libertarianism nonsense run rampant through our society. Can't infringe on the rights of the individual. If she wants to live that way - Ayn Rand says good for her.
Sept. 17, 2013, 3:47 pm
Um, Notquite from Bay ridge says:
petebklyn, im sure that someone(s) would love to violate her rights, slap her in a padded cell and get that real estate for cheap.
Sept. 17, 2013, 5:03 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
If she's living outside on a stoop, then this is going to be over soon. Cold winter = problem solved. Once she becomes a Popsicle she shouldn't be too hard to remove.
Sept. 18, 2013, 7:55 am
pete has it! from Park Slope says:
Park Slope. The Brooklyn Paper can expect a costly lawsuit, for bad journalism and repeating mere slander, the lies of vicious parties. Either way it's disgusting rag journalism. The person in question has been declared totally competent by psychiatrists, recently, three times in fact, in answer to lies reported to 311. The "case" was initiated by false reports by the very same inventors of this article. The building has not in any way collapsed, and the newspaper can expect to pay up.
Sept. 19, 2013, 6:17 pm
Eric from LeffWanusGardenHeights says:
" The Brooklyn Paper can expect a costly lawsuit ... the newspaper can expect to pay up."

Sept. 19, 2013, 10:28 pm
Stephanie from Bay Ridge says:
Simple, hit that woman with an RKO out of nowhere.
Sept. 21, 2013, 12:24 pm
Eileen F. says:
I knew Joan way back in the 70's. She has owned that piece of property going back to that time. Joan is/was a remarkable artist who's works were shown throughout NYC at various installations and museums. Over the years, whenever I was back in the neighborhood, I stop and ring her bell. There was never an answer. My heart is so sad for her.
July 14, 2018, 11:07 am

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