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zombie properties

Neighbors have more tools to renovate and fill empty homes in their community.

Mayor Lovely Warren announced a new program Thursday that allows city residents the opportunity to purchase a neighboring “zombie” or vacant home, receive a subsidy to fix it up and then rent it out at an affordable rate for families.

The program is called Neighbors for Neighbors. The City of Rochester has partnered with the Rochester Land Bank Corporation to administer the program and it’s funded through a state grant.

Several nonprofit organizations are teaming up to help provide housing options for people in need, while reducing the number of so-called zombie homes in Rochester. Flower City Habitat for Humanity has launched its Vacant and Abandoned Homes pilot program with the City of Rochester.

According to a report released last summer, there were about 600 vacant and abandoned homes around Monroe County, which contributed to a more than $11 million loss in property values. But the program goes beyond the numbers; it’s giving families a new start.

We talk with two new homeowners who are part of the program, and learn how it is helping to reduce poverty in Rochester. In studio:

Tianna Manon

If Rene Hagins is lucky, she’ll be moving into her brand new house in about a month’s time.

Located on Parsells Avenue in Rochester, the home currently has just two bathtubs and a front porch. There's no insulation, only a half-done front stoop and there are random holes throughout the house where piping will later go.

But she says she’s extremely excited: “I come by and check it out all of the time,” she said, laughing. "I take pictures and everything. It's great."

freeimages.com/John DeBoer

An event this weekend will give Monroe County residents a chance to hear directly from location organizations and service providers about the resources that are available to help them keep, maintain, or buy a home.

The first annual Home Fair is sponsored by the Monroe County Vacant and Abandoned Property Task Force.

Mayor Lovely Warren announced Tuesday that the City of Rochester will demolish 175 vacant homes. The issue of zombie properties and what to do about them has been a source of debate in the community. Mayor Warren says vacant homes become harbors for drug users, they aren't safe, and they bring down neighborhood morale and property values. She says it's time to take down those buildings and start fresh.

Some local organizations have different ideas about what to do. We talk to stakeholders about their thoughts on City Hall's plan. In studio:

*Note: We extended an invitation to representatives from the City of Rochester, but no one was available to participate. 

Zombie Homes Task Force Releases Recommendations

Oct 13, 2016
monroe county

A task force formed by Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello has issued its first report addressing a problem Bello calls one of the most concerning and frustrating issues facing homeowners: vacant or "zombie" properties.

He says those abandoned properties can contribute to crime and a have a serious, negative impact on property values.

Bello, who co-chairs the committee, says their recommendations can make a difference.

New Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello has made the fight against zombie properties a priority.

Bello recently convened a vacant and abandoned property task force to address the issue, which is a problem in Rochester. So who should be responsible for keeping a property in decent condition? What changes has Bello advocated? Our guests:

  • Adam Bello, Monroe County Clerk
  • Rebecca Caico, Empire Justice Center

When Mayor Lovely Warren joined Connections earlier this month, she defended Assemblyman David Gantt's decision to abandon one of his rental properties in the City of Rochester, effectively turning it into a zombie property.

A group called Take Back the Land was disappointed to hear that; they point out that the vast majority of zombie properties nationwide are left behind by rental property owners who give up.

So how can the city toughen up or deal with the issue? Beyond that, the group fights evictions, calling for housing as a human right. We talk to them about all of these issues. Our guests, all from Take Back the Land:

  • Ryan Acuff
  • Julie Gelfand
  • Elizabeth McGriff
  • Barbara Horton

What's up with Assemblyman David Gantt's abandoned house? Turns out it's not the same as a "zombie property." But it's a real problem: people giving up on property and walking away from it. Gantt has not returned our calls to appear on the show or comment, but we talk about the issue with our panel: