MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Residents of one Westchester County neighborhood celebrated after a long-standing zombie home was torn to the ground Sunday afternoon.
The vacant, abandoned home at 136 park Avenue in mount Vernon was badly damaged, with the yard filled with trash — a problem for residents neighboring the property, CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported.
“For property values and safety reasons too — you know, somebody could get hurt, it could collapse,” JeanMarie Sousa, of Mount Vernon, said.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas, appearing with his children in front of the demolition site on Sunday, is targeting zombie homes across the city to help revitalize struggling neighborhoods.
“This house poses an imminent threat to public safety and this is why were taking it down,” Thomas said.
A new study showed there are 189 zombie homes and bank-owned foreclosed properties across Westchester. Their blight has cost neighbors an estimated $20 million in lost property values.
Mount Vernon is the hardest hit, with 39 of those homes costing $7.8 million in lost value to neighboring homeowners.
“This is something that we’re not going to tolerate,” Thomas said. “If there are any zombie houses in this community, we will take them on, we will take them down, one at a time.”
Yonkers has another 39 zombie properties that cost neighbors $5.2 million.
“This is something that we’re not going to tolerate if there are any zombie houses in this community we will take them on we will take them down one at a time,” Thomas said. Thomas said he is working with state lawmakers to try and get a new bill passed that would make it easier to crack down on these delinquent property owners and hold them accountable
Since the recession, CBS2 has highlighted the zombie home problem in the suburbs, including a mansion in Purchase and a vacant home with a swimming pool in Nyack.
Thomas said there could be as many as 54 zombie homes in Mount Vernon.