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Abandoned ‘zombie’ homes in Long Island frustrate neighbors

EAST MASSAPEQUA, NY — Beware of the zombies.  Not the monster type zombies. We’re talking about zombie homes. They are homes left vacant after banks foreclosed on the them following the financial crisis and Superstorm Sandy. They deteriorate, create an eyesore and bring property values down.  My report focuses on East Massapequa, Long Island, one of many communities plagued by zombie homes.

We spoke with one woman who lives next door to a home that’s been vacant for 20 years.   There's a condemned home owned by a bank nearby. It's been left vacant for 15 years.  A neighbor says nothing has been done about the home, despite repeated complaints by the Breezy Point Civic Association to the Town of Oyster Bay, which includes Massapequa.

Association President Bill Manton says the banks have not been cooperative. He says they should sell the properties, instead of leaving the properties boarded up.

The association’s attorney, Jonathan Clarke says "What the banks are doing now is they’re using the homes as a tax write-off so they are making a profit leaving the homes vacant."

Clarke says Oyster Bay officials should sue the banks under a law passed last year to combat the problem of zombie homes. The law requires the banks to maintain the properties following foreclosure and to bring the homes to auction with 90 day days.  “They have to be sold, so they can’t just leave the homes vacant," says Clarke. If this isn’t done, the banks can be fined up to $500 a day.

Residents have given the Town of Oyster Bay a list of vacant homes owned by banks and requested that officials take immediate action to force the banks to obey the new law. Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino wouldn’t answer our questions, but the town’s Chief Deputy Town Attorney Frank Scalera, in a statement to PIX11,  says ,  “The Town of Oyster Bay has a robust program in place to combat abandoned homes by remediating the property and placing such costs on the property owners.  Just recently, the Town was awarded a $350,000 grant from New York State for enhancement of the program and the pursuit of lending institutions for the cleanup of zombie homes.”

Members of the Breezy Point Civic Association have met with Supervisor Saladino and say he has promised to look into their concerns. The association’s vice-president Carol Gordon says “Let’s penalize the banks, get money from the banks, because they have so much money now, and then start helping the community and the taxpayers.”

If you have a story for me, email me at whatashame@pix11.com.