Fighting the blight of 'zombie' homes on Long Island

Daniel Walsh takes pride in the upkeep of his home in Central Islip, Long Island. He lives on a beautiful block but within the past two years so-called zombie homes have been popping up as a result of foreclosures.

"Since the house was abandoned, it's just been an eyesore," he said.

That is all about to change. Construction is underway on the bank foreclosed property across the street from Walsh. The Suffolk County Landbank acquired the home. It works with nonprofit organizations to combat neglected homes and rebuild neighborhoods.

"This is a win-win-win for everybody because we're taking these blighted properties that aren't contributing in any way to our property tax base and we're turning them into affordable housing for families to come here and live," County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Officials said vacant properties detract from values and attract crime. One home that is just under 1,000 square feet will be getting a brand-new roof and siding and the inside will be completely gutted.

"One in 333 homes in Central Islip is in foreclosure compared to one in every 605 homes in Suffolk County," Bellone said.

Another home two doors down is also part of the Suffolk County Landbank. Both homes are expected to be ready by the end of summer.

"We have a need on Long Island for homeownership, for affordable housing, workforce housing," Michelle Di Benedetto of Long Island Housing Partnership said. "To put some of these homes into the Suffolk County Landbank and become part of that is extremely important."

Walsh said he doesn't mind the construction because he believes change is for the better.

"When they fix that, my wife is going to make me do a lot more work," he said.

Over the past six months, the home price in Central Islip has averaged $204,000.