Babylon Mayor Says Banks Are Failing To Maintain Vacant Houses

BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Foreclosed homes right in the suburbia of Long Island have been left with giant holes in the ceiling and graffiti-filled walls – and they are costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, local officials said taxpayers should not be footing the bills for the dozens of foreclosed homes at all.

One house in Babylon has stood with a blue tarp over the roof and an overgrown, sloppy yard for more than a year. Inside the house, conditions are even worse, with filth and vandalism everywhere – moldy garbage and cat litter strewn around, and graffiti covering what walls still stand.

CBS 2 was invited into the vacant house by Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino, who entered for a safety check. He said such conditions are the result when mortgages lapse, homes fall into foreclosure, and banks don’t do the required upkeep.

“I blame the banks. I blame the maintenance company. I blame the whole system,” Scordino said. “It’s a travesty, and to leave a house like this in this condition is beyond reproach.”

Scordino said municipalities such as his are saddled with the cost of keeping vacant properties from becoming dangerous eyesores. It has totaled $30,000 home on maintenance, legal fees, and ultimately demolition.

There are 10 vacant, foreclosed houses in Babylon alone, and more than 3,300 foreclosures in Suffolk County so far this year.

“It’s a burden on the village, it’s a burden on the Suffolk County police because they have to be aware of it, it’s a burden on the neighbors,” Scordino said.

Some residents of million-dollar homes said they have been stuck with the nightmare of living next to foreclosed houses that are falling apart.

“It’s not fair. It’s not nice,” said resident Steve Balducci.

“It’s sad, because it’s not what your family dream is, to live next to that,” said neighbor Kim Fennell.

CBS 2 did find one bank-contracted crew at a foreclosed home, and a worker claimed the crew came by twice a month – but only to mow.

“Some of them I don’t go into. They’re just — floors falling apart; mold is crazy. But I don’t know. Houses like that? I’m not going to put them into jeopardy,” The worker said.

But Mayor Scordino said the companies hired by the banks to do upkeep come sporadically at best, and that the blighted houses are draining not only neighbors’ patients, but also taxpayer money.

CBS 2 reached out to the New York Bankers’ Association, which said it has long supported efforts to speed up the foreclosure process and reduce the amount of time a vacant property can fall into disrepair.

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