NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lawmakers in Albany were meeting for the final hours of the legislative session on Thursday. Many were wondering if a proposal to help clean up thousands of abandoned homes will finally pass.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, one Long Island town isn’t counting on Albany, they’re tackling zombie properties with a new tactic.
Shoppers and business across Long Island can’t help but notice the growing crop of zombie businesses.
“I think it’s an eyesore and property values of commercial buildings are going down because of this,” Mitchell Skoller, Board Member, East Meadow Chamber of Commerce said.
The term used to describe homes abandoned in foreclosure, left to fall apart also applies to more than 50 businesses across the Town of Hempstead – zombie stores are marring shopping districts.
“Zombie businesses can kill a community,” Town of Hempstead, Supervisor, Anthony Santino said.
That’s why America’s largest township is proposing to make banks pay $35,000 in security funds to upkeep each vacant commercial property.
The banks – they hope – will just do the upkeep themselves, or better yet sell the blighter property and put it back in business.
“It is time that being a bad business owner really hits their wallet,” Town of Hempstead Councilman, Anthony D’Esposito said.
The proposal is a reflection of frustration with inaction in Albany.
A state bill that would force banks to pay for upkeep and create a zombie registry has stalled since 2013. State Senator Tom Croci is hoping for 11th hour passage.
“So local government gets it, they’re acting. I think it’s incumbent on us, we’re not going to give up until we get there,” he said.
The Town of Hempstead is cleaning of thousands of zombie homes too. If banks refuse to pay the upkeep fee they’ll be fined $1,500 a day.
“There will be a price to pay for allowing these properties to remain in disrepair,” he said.
A spokeswoman for lending banks in New York called the proposal outrageous, and predicts lenders will simply stop doing business if they have to shell out $35,000 per property that they don’t even own yet.
The foreclosure process in New York is the longest in the nation and can take years. Banks want the process fast tracked.
There are more than 16,000 zombie properties in New York state.