Although many people might think the crisis is abating, there has actually been a sharp increase in abandoned and foreclosed homes in the last year, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday.
Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein is introducing a bill that would let homeowners stay in the homes as long as possible and hold the banks accountable for the disrepair.
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"We’re making a demand on the banks that they have to maintain these properties," Klein said.
All of the properties would have to be on a registry with the state attorney general’s office, which would have a hotline neighbors can call to report any problems, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
Abandoned and foreclosed homes hurt more than just the people who can’t keep up the payments, Schneiderman said.
"Your entire community is damaged. Property values go down. Crime, arson and vandalism go up," Schneiderman said.
The homes are known as "zombie properties" because there’s no life in them, but they’re not dead. Many are a breeding ground for a multitude of problems.
Mount Vernon City Councilman Rich Thomas said they’re a big problem there.
"Raccoons, people doing drugs, mosquitoes — all the things you don’t want next to your home in the summer," Thomas said. "Four years in the life of a family versus four years of a life of a bank is an eternity."
Fred Ramftl of City Island said the properties are eyesores and safety hazards.
"The snow was never shoveled. They were constantly summonsed by the Sanitation Department," he said. "You try to contact the bank. Nothing seems to get done."
Elbin Mena of the Harding Park section of the Bronx said the "zombie" homes near him have even had leaks and floods.
"I would go in there and shut off the water mains," he said. "There is nothing we can do. I’ve screwed doors shut to prevent kids from going into these buildings."
Under the bill, banks would have to pay penalties and the money would go to the communities stuck with the cost of taking care of the properties.