Albion will push this year to address ‘zombie homes’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 March 2017 at 7:38 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: This home on West State Street, behind the Post Office, is one of about 45 houses in the Village of Albion considered a “zombie” property.

ALBION – The Village of Albion will soon start a new program to target “zombie homes” in the village.

Those houses have been vacant – often for several years – and typically are not maintained during prolonged foreclosure proceedings.

There are about 45 zombie homes in the village. Ron Vendetti, the village code enforcement officer, would like to see the houses occupied, and contributing to their neighborhoods.

He is heading the village effort, which has been aided by a $75,000 state grant, which was awarded in October.

The funds will pay for several initiatives, including legal work, researching the title and trying to trace which bank owns a property. In some cases, the bank that holds the mortgage isn’t easily known or an out-of-state bank or mortgage company doesn’t have someone assigned to manage the properties in foreclosure.

“We want the banks to either move on these properties or cut them loose,” Vendetti said.

The grant will establish a program for dealing with the zombie houses, a program that could expand county-wide. Vendetti said there relive more than 200 zombie houses in the county. He wants to create a database of zombie homes in Albion and the county, with special computer software to track the properties.

He would like there to be financial counseling for people in mortgage trouble. Some residents may have lost their house, and Vendetti said they might be able to return with a mortgage modification.

Albion is partnering with PathStone in Rochester to try to redevelop the vacant properties.

Vendetti said some of the solutions for the vacant houses will be working with people who are experienced in construction to make needed repairs at the houses. PathStone could help identify new first-time homebuyers.

The village’s LDC might also be able to acquire some of the houses, and hold them in a tax-exempt status in the short term as an incentive for people to buy the houses and make needed improvements.

“We are going to develop a template for how to deal with this,” Vendetti said.

Once the program is in place, Vendetti said the state could provide additional grants to help redevelop some of the properties. The state did that before for the village, which partnered with PathStone about a decade ago to fix up some houses and then sell them. Without the grant, sometimes it doesn’t make financial sense to buy or invest in a property that needs tens of thousands of dollars in improvements.

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