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Prevention of 'zombie properties' is goal of Home Fair

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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.

Rebecca Caico, senior attorney at the Empire Justice Center, is co-chair of the task force. She says there is no accurate count of the number of so-called "zombie properties" in Monroe County. There are more than 2,000 in the city of Rochester.  Some are simply abandoned and others are in foreclosure.

"There are grants out there and people are struggling,” Caico said. “They are able to keep their home if they have access to and knowledge of the resources that are already available."

The home fair offers workshops with information about homeownership, tenant rights, and home rehabilitation. Participating vendors include the Legal Aid Society of Rochester, NeighborWorks Rochester, Legal Assistance of Western New York, and the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership. Current and prospective homeowners will be able to get free counseling sessions with counselors of several HUD certified housing counseling agencies. The Home Fair is at the Gates Community Center on Saturday, October 21 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  The event is free but registration is requested. 

Caico said she was surprised that 300 people had already registered by late Friday morning. "It's really inspiring, frankly, and just a little bit disheartening that so many people are hungry for this information."

The task force is working with municipalities across Monroe County to help them identify and track zombie properties. 

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.
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