County officials try new tactic to combat zombie homes

Posted: Updated:
MOUNT VERNON -

Westchester County officials are trying a new tactic to prevent zombie homes from plaguing some neighborhoods.

Zombie homes are houses that have fallen into disrepair. Many have been foreclosed and abandoned.

There are programs in Westchester County to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, but County Clerk Tim Idoni thought that the county could help cities maintain the homes.

He started a zombie homes alert program last month that notifies cities when a home within its limits goes into foreclosure.

The hope is that the cities can do some maintenance on the vacant homes, like cutting grass or keeping up with the paint job, to avoid allowing the house to fall in disrepair.

Besides being an eyesore to the neighborhood, zombie homes can lower property values of neighboring homes and attract rats.

"The rest of the neighborhood maybe perfectly manicured, but here's a house where the weeds are too high, the paint is falling off of the home. It hurts values and gives a sense of possibly criminal activity in the neighborhood,” says Idoni.

Some cities like Mount Vernon already have initiatives to tackle zombie homes. The county hopes this new program will be another layer to curb the problem.

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