Grant will aid ‘zom­bie’ prop­er­ties fight

No­ble says $150,000 will be use­ful in bid to cut num­ber of va­cant build­ings

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Kirby pkirby@free­manon­ paulat­free­man on Twit­ter

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.

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