New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office recently announced that 76 cities, towns and villages across the state are splitting $12.6 million to combat the proliferation of vacant and abandoned houses that fall into disrepair — otherwise known as “zombie homes” — and to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
The AG’s office defined zombie homes as “vacant and abandoned homes that are not maintained during a prolonged foreclosure proceeding” in a news release announcing the funds.
The AG’s office said the money is coming from a grant initiative made possible by Schneiderman’s $3.2 billion settlement agreement with banking giant Morgan Stanley.
The settlement February resolved claims of fraud against the bank during the housing bubble of the mid-2000s.
“Too many homeowners across New York are still struggling to rebuild their communities in the wake of the housing crisis caused by major banks,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “[The] settlement with Morgan Stanley will now help cities and towns across the state reverse the proliferation of zombie properties, which invite crime and threaten the value of surrounding homes. These grants will help rebuild, revitalize, and stabilize communities across the state.”
Schneiderman’s office said the money will address housing vacancy and blight by strengthening municipalities’ “capacity for housing code enforcement, for tracking and monitoring vacant properties, and for legal enforcement capacity to ensure banks and mortgage companies comply with local and state law.”
Grants ranged from $52,500 to $350,000, and were awarded to municipalities as large as New York City, with an estimated 9,692 vacant properties and as small as the town of Ticonderoga, with a population of 5,042 and an estimated 104 vacant properties.
Other municipalities receiving funds include Albany ($250,000), Amsterdam ($150,000), Cohoes ($100,000), Glens Falls ($90,000), Gloversville ($150,000), Saratoga Springs ($150,000), Schenectady ($250,000), Troy ($250,000), Utica ($250,000) and the village of Saranac Lake ($75,000).