NEW YORK - The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development has created a special team to track down so-called “zombie homes,” homes that are vacant, deteriorated and whose owners are behind on their mortgage payments.
“A lot of the work of the team is data collection,” said Leila Bozorg, Deputy Commissioner of Department of Housing and Preservation. “We send people out to survey homes to try to document where are zombie homes in New York City and what’s the extent of the challenge.”
Officials estimate there are more than 3,000 such homes the team has tracked in the city, primarily in areas still working through economic distress caused by the foreclosure crisis.
Zombie properties have long been the frequent targets of squatters, with at times fatal results, as was the case with Thursday’s fire that killed three men in Queens.
According to Bozorg, new laws allow them to hold financial lenders more accountable once a home falls into foreclosure.
The city has also partnered with housing advocates like the Center for NYC Neighborhoods to help homeowners in trouble find funds to help prevent the creation of more zombie homes.