Grant will aid ‘zombie’ properties fight
Noble says $150,000 will be useful in bid to cut number of vacant buildings
KINGSTON, N.Y. >> The city has been awarded $150,000 to help reduce the number of “zombie” properties.
Kingston’s award is from a pool of $12.6 million funneled through the office of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to help 76 cities, towns, and villages address the problem of vacant and abandoned homes that are not maintained during prolonged foreclosure proceedings.
The grants were awarded under the Zombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative, which the attorney general established in July with funds drawn from the $3.2 billion settlement agreement with Morgan Stanley, according to a press release.
“Too many homeowners across New York are still struggling to rebuild their communities in the wake of the hous-
ing crisis caused by major banks,” Schneiderman said in the release. “I’m proud that the funding obtained by my office’s settlement with Morgan Stanley will now help cities and towns across the state reverse the proliferation of zombie properties, which invite crime and threaten the value of surrounding homes.”
Kingston Mayor Steve Noble, who has made efforts to combat zombie properties a priority, said the funding will be very useful.
“These funds will help us to advance the city efforts to improve the overall
quality of housing and reduce the negative impact these properties have on neighboring properties,” Noble said in an email. “We intend to use a comprehensive, multilayered approach, which will include policy development, planning, assessment, enforcement, and strategic community partnerships.”
Noble said the grant will help the city implement these initiatives:
• Engage The Center for Community Progress, a national, non-profit organization specializing in helping communities deal with vacant and abandoned properties, to assist in creation of a Land Bank & Housing Services entity to provide technical assistance and consensus building for housing initiatives;
• Issue a request for proposals for a consultant to complete a comprehensive, citywide housing analysis, including the compilation of a housing inventory with planning information into one document or database;
• Hire one more fulltime code enforcement officer and supply the Building Safety Division with added software and electronics to increase the ability to identify, inventory and address zombie properties.
• Increase employment of a part-time administrative assistant to fulltime, with benefits, to immediately begin outreach to residents who may be at risk of foreclosure and to connect them to resources.
Noble will hold a public hearing on Oct. 18 on new legislation to regulate vacant buildings in the city. The hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. in City Hall, 420 Broadway.
The Common Council has already adopted the measure. If Noble signs the legislation, it will repeal and replace the current section of the city’s code regulating vacant buildings.
The new legislation is designed to create a program for identifying and registering abandoned and vacant buildings and properties, as well as to establish a process for securing, maintaining and rehabilitating the properties.
A vacant house at 93 Washington Ave. in Kingston.