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Senators Unveil Task Force to Combat Zombie Properties

shutterstock_496818574In a report from the New York State Senate released by Senators Jeff Klein (D-NY) and Jamaal Bailey (D-NY), a new task force called the “Nightmare Neighbor Task Force” was unveiled to address the effects of abandoned properties owned by banks in local New York communities.

In the investigative report, titled “Nightmare Neighbors: How Badly Maintained Homes Damage Neighborhoods,” New York officials detailed how abandoned properties lower the value of surrounding homes.   

“The foreclosure crisis continues to negatively impact neighborhoods in Mount Vernon. We have made great strides in eliminating zombie properties and holding financial institutions liable for the properties they own, however there is still more to do. This joint task force and legislation will help Mount Vernon home owners maintain their home values and quality of life,” said Senator Klein.

New York’s senators aren’t the only ones feeling the pressure of foreclosed and abandoned houses driving down home values; it’s a problem across the entire country. In DS News’ upcoming November feature “Getting A Head Start,” Brian A. Lee interviews Founder and Chairman of Community Blight Solutions Robert Klein on the benefit of fast-tracking the foreclosure process to address the issue of “zombie” properties. “Fast-tracking enables the mortgage servicer to get possession of property before it deteriorates,’ Klein said. “This directly leads to on-time conveyance and faster rehab and sale.” So far the only two states that have passed fast-track foreclosure laws are Ohio and Maryland.  

Based on the findings from the “Nightmare Neighbors” report, 21 bank-owned properties in Mount Vernon caused a total depreciation value of $3.5 million to 764 surrounding homes. Out of those bank-owned properties, 10 were considered abandoned or “zombie,” which means they are vacant and have no known owner. These properties affected 296 nearby homes and caused a combined depreciation of $1.7 million in value. Six of the homes were considered abandoned and accounted for a total loss of $1.04 million, according to the report.

The task force keeps better track of vacant homes throughout the city and allows citizens to contact the offices of the officials to report a home they believe has been abandoned. “Our task force, along with residents and leaders of this community will be vitally important in highlighting these properties and restoring these homes and neighborhoods accordingly.” Senator Bailey said. “With new legislation, we will be able to hold banks even more accountable for properties they own, and most importantly, held accountable in the communities that they do business in.”

Additional comments were made by Mount Vernon’s Mayor Richard Thomas. “We know how dangerous these buildings can be but as Senator Klein and Bailey clearly show, the effect on our property values is unacceptable” said Thomas. He goes on to say the new legislation is “a recipe for revitalization” and that it “will provide an essential ingredient for neighborhood transformation.”

Read the full press release from the New York State Senate here.

About Author: Dean Terrell


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