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Rochester Awarded Funding to Combat Zombie Properties

The City of Rochester was among 48 municipalities awarded funds from a state grant aimed at reducing abandoned properties, also known as “Zombie Properties.”

Rochester received $500,000 from a total of $9 million issued to communities across New York State under the “Zombies 2.0” program established by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

“Too many communities throughout New York State are blighted by abandoned homes that decrease property values and threaten the safety of our neighborhoods,” James said. “These grants will go a long way in supporting municipalities and ensuring they have the resources they need to combat this nuisance. Revitalizing our communities is always a priority and I am proud that my office can help turn these abandoned properties into valuable assets.” 

The  awards are a continuation of the 2016 Zombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative created by the Office of the New York Attorney General to track and monitor vacant abandoned properties and to help these cities and towns to clear out zombie properties a

“So-called zombie homes harm our neighborhoods and the people who live in them and this funding will go a long way toward restoring these types of properties to productive use, leading to more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said. “I would like to thank Attorney General James for continuing to stand up for Upstate New York and for all of Rochester’s residents.”

To be eligible, cities, towns and villages had to individually or for joint applications combined, have at least 5,000 residents and more than 100 vacant properties; and through these funds, these municipalities will be able to:

  • Improve data collection and analysis to track vacant and abandoned properties; 
  • Invest in new technology to better collect and analyze data to address the collective impact of vacant properties on neighborhoods; 
  • Create “Zombie Coordinators” and Taskforces to coordinate code enforcement activities and resources; 
  • Boost capacity of code enforcement and legal departments to enforce relevant laws to hold lienholders accountable or seek remedies to improve housing quality; and, 
  • Connect at-risk homeowners to foreclosure prevention resources.  

Additionally, the grant will assist with the development of efficient and effective means of collaborating with state agencies to ensure compliance with the new Zombie Law, which requires the mortgagees or servicing agents of vacant and abandoned properties to inspect, secure and maintain them. The grant will be in effect for a two year period.

The “Zombie 2.0” program is as a result of the NY Attorney General’s $500 Million settlement with Royal Bank of Scotland in 2018 related to mortgage fraud.