Town Secures State Grant to Combat Zombie Properties and Vacant Buildings

Hempstead Town successfully applied for a grant to fund Supervisor Anthony J. Santino’s aggressive programs to eradicate “zombie homes” and vacant buildings. The Town received a $350,000 grant, along with the Village of Hempstead, to monitor vacant and abandoned houses and to implement programs that ensure banks and property owners pay for the cost of property upkeep. The grants are part of $3.3 million in grants awarded across Long Island by the New York State Attorney General’s office.

“This money will help offset the cost to our taxpayers associated with the administration of programs we have implemented to combat ‘zombie’ homes and businesses,” Santino said. “Every property that is vacant or unmaintained affects the value of the homes in our communities. We’re working hard to ensure that banks and property owners are good neighbors and properly maintain their properties.”

The Supervisor has recently assembled a multi-pronged plan to deal with “zombie” properties and vacant buildings. Santino has indicated that the grant monies that are received from the State Attorney General’s Office will be used to offset the costs of administering his “zombie” homes program and a vacant building registry.

In May of this year, the town passed a “zombie” homes law which requires banks that foreclose on houses to remit a $25,000 security payment to the town to ensure the maintenance of the property. In June, a companion plan passed that would force banks and other lenders that foreclose on commercial properties to provide the town with security funding in the amount of $35,000. Most recently, the town approved a law that requires property owners of unoccupied structures to register vacant buildings, produce a vacant building plan, pay security funding to ensure property maintenance and pay an annual registry fee.

Upon taking office this year, Supervisor Santino declared “war” on “zombie” homes and businesses, and he is holding banks/owners responsible for the maintenance of the properties.

“The funding we will receive will go a long way toward preserving the quality of life our residents expect and will help hold banks accountable for the maintenance of foreclosed properties,” Santino concluded. “With the vacant building registry and ‘zombie’ property laws that our town has enacted, we are tackling the zombie issue head on.”