The Northern Westchester Examiner

Peekskill Awarded $100,000 Grant to Combat ‘Zombie Homes’

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The City of Peekskill is one of 76 communities statewide that was awarded a state grant to help combat vacant and abandoned homes that are not maintained during prolonged foreclosure proceedings.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced last week that Peekskill will receive $100,000 under the Zombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative, which was established in July with $12.6 million drawn from a $3.2 billion settlement with Morgan Stanley to assist municipalities with the biggest problem of so-called “zombie homes.”

“Too many homeowners across New York are still struggling to rebuild their communities in the wake of the housing crisis caused by major banks,” Schneiderman said. “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. These grants will help rebuild, revitalize and stabilize communities across the state.”

When the city applied for the grant, Peekskill officials identified approximately 75 homes that could potentially fall under the parameters of the program.

Statewide, there are at least 16,000 “zombie homes,” according to Schneiderman said. Studies have shown that each zombie property reduces the value of all homes within 750 feet by one percent. Another component of Schneiderman’s initiative is to hold banks accountable for their role in the housing crash a few years ago where inflated mortgages with high interest rates were approved for homeowners who didn’t qualify.

“The funds will help care for our neighborhoods and reverse the encroachment of abandoned homes in our area,” said Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina, who initially expressed skepticism about the program, calling it “a publicity stunt.”

“We have made progress, and this funding will provide needed support to help eliminate this threat to the welfare of our city,” Catalina added.

Westchester County Legislator John Testa (R/Peekskill) welcomed news of the funding, saying “This money will go a long way toward improving the integrity of Peekskill’s historic neighborhoods and is key to protecting the home value of hard working taxpayers.”

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