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'Zombie properties' — abandoned homes — can be reported with a new tool in Monroe County & Rochester

A stock photo of an abandoned home in disrepair.
Thomas Bullock/Tom
A stock photo of an abandoned home in disrepair.

If you notice any abandoned houses around Rochester and Monroe County, there’s now an online tool to report it.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Rochester Mayor Malik Evans announced a new website to help identify and respond to vacant and abandoned buildings known as “zombie properties.”

“Many residents tell me that vacant properties are among the most concerning issues they face in their neighborhoods,” Bello said in a statement. “Vacant and abandoned properties — so-called ‘zombie’ homes — are a dangerous blight on our community.”

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, these dilapidated properties pose risks to the public health and welfare of neighbors, and they’re often linked to higher rates of crime.

One possible reason for that is because the appearance of broken or boarded windows and other signs of abandonment can signal that no one is monitoring that immediate area, making it a “safe haven” for criminal activity.

While the website can be used to report zombie properties, it also offers a guide to grants for neighbors, information on foreclosure prevention for homeowners and provides other tools for anyone with a vested interest. Properties can also be sold or donated to nonprofits.

“The Vacant Property Resource Hub will empower community residents and stakeholders to play a critical role in our efforts to reverse disinvestment, stabilize property values and strengthen neighborhoods,” Evans said in a statement. “Partnerships such as this demonstrate the incredible progress we are making to create a safe, equitable and prosperous Rochester and Monroe County.”

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.