When the last economic recession hit the United States back in 2009, the impact was felt hard in the state of New York. As a result of thousands of people falling behind on their mortgage payments, foreclosures spiked, creating “zombie houses.” Homeowners who couldn't afford their mortgages also could not afford to maintain or upkeep their properties, and they often eventually abandoned the property altogether.
Even here, in Nassau County, we have seen our share of zombie houses. These derelict homes are not only an eyesore with their boarded-up windows and collapsing porches or roofs, but they are also often home to weeds, trash, rodents, and squatters. Neighborhoods with multiple zombie homes also see an uptick in criminal activity. But a recent law, State Bill 5079A, signed by Governor Cuomo will allow local municipal governments to force banks to either finish the foreclosure process on these homes or release them from their loan so the city can take over the property.
Why is this a good thing? Let's look at another city's program as an example of what New York could do.
Philadelphia's LandCare Program
In 1996, the city of Philadelphia began an innovative program called LandCare to address abandoned, vacant lots in its neighborhoods. The City's Office of Housing and Community Development contracts with the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society to “clean and green” these lots by removing trash, installing fences (to prevent illegal dumping of trash), planting trees and grasses, and then maintaining the lots every other week in April through October.
The LandCare program recently expanded its program to begin installing new doors and windows on zombie houses. A Manhattan Institute study found that in doing so, it has led to a 16 percent drop in nuisance crimes, 20 percent fewer assaults, and a 39 percent reduction in gun assaults in a single year. Making neighborhoods safer means more people might start moving back into them, possibly buying former zombie homes to renovate and breathe new life into an abandoned home.
New York's Future for Zombie Homes
The Philadelphia LandCare program serves as an example that cities and governments can work to turn a blighted neighborhood around and get it back on its feet as a place residents want to move into, not abandon. Now that State Bill 5079 has been passed, maybe New York zombie properties can return to productive properties.
An experienced New York foreclosure defense attorney can help you fight any foreclosure proceedings you are facing and can work to come up with a settlement that works for you as well as the lender. If you are facing a foreclosure, contact the Law Offices of Melvin Monachan, PLLC today.
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