Long Island gets $1.5 million from state to fight vacant “zombie” homes

Tri-State /
Jul.July 15, 2019 09:03 PM

The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James will give $1.5 million to the governments of Brookhaven, Freeport, Hempstead, Island Park, Islip and Smithtown to mitigate the number of “zombie houses” — vacant or foreclosed homes that have increased on Long Island over the past decade, Newsday reported. The grants are to fund tougher code enforcement, while also ensuring that banks and mortgage companies follow laws mandating that they maintain proper upkeep for properties in their control. Derelict structures can attract vandals, squatters and vermin, any of which can hurt neighboring property values. In 2016, the New York AG’s office gave out $13 million in a statewide effort to fix the problem. In that push, 16 Long Island municipalities received $3.1 million. The latest efforts will give $9 million to 48 towns in New York. The money for the latest push comes from a $500 million settlement last year between the state and the Royal Bank of Scotland. New York officials accused the British bank of deceptive practices to sell and market mortgage-backed securities. James, elected to office last year, said she would give up to $500,000 municipalities, depending on the state of their local vacancy situation. Brookhaven’s supervisor, Edward Romaine, said he expected the town to receive $450,000, a sum that will be used to enforce codes, board-up vacant houses, cut grass and counsel homeowners on how to avoid foreclosure. “In extreme measures, when a house is so bad, we take it down,” Romaine said. “We have taken down more than 275 houses.” [Newsday]


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