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"Zombie" homes could be on the rise, how Erie County is looking to prevent that

Zombie Homes
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 17:41:24-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — As the federal moratorium on foreclosures was extended once again, Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns and the WNY Law Center are fearing that a rush of foreclosures could come once the moratorium ends. If that is the case, they could see a lot of "Zombie Homes" appearing.

"Zombie Homes" are homes that has been neglected due to a lack of payments and foreclosure. Zombie Homes can be neglected by the owner of the property, or banks that take over. When these properties have been left alone for months and years, it can become a major eyesore for the community. So, Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns and the Western New York Law Center are trying to make sure neighbors and towns are prepared in case zombie homes increase due to post-pandemic foreclosures.

"I think when we are going to see more (Zombie Homes) from COVID-19 in a year or two down the road," Kate Lockhart, Vacant and Abandoned Property Program Director with the WNY Law Center, said.

This increase could come after many people still struggle from the after effects of the pandemic. It's why the County Clerk and WNY Law Center are trying to get ahead of Zombie Home creation through prevention and knowledge. Starting with a preparation of towns on how to approach banks and landowners on how the properties need to be maintained.

"Let them know that they have a responsibility to maintain the property on behalf of the community," Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns, said.

They also want to make sure homeowners know that there are solutions other than foreclosure. Anyone can contact the WNY Law Center with questions on what to do if facing foreclosure. They feel that, if they can keep people in their homes, they will not become zombified. That can be through things like loan modifications, and forbearance with many more solutions available.

"The goal is if we can deal with what is out there now and prevent future zombies, everyone can benefit from homeowners getting access to the services that are out there," Lockhart said.

For more information on the WNY Law Center's foreclosure help, you can call them at 716-855-0203 x118. You can also go to their website here. To report a Zombie Home to the County Clerk's office, you can visit the Zombie's Initiative website here.