Albany, NY - June 28, 2016 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New Yorkers can report vacant and abandoned properties in their communities through a hotline at the New York State Department of Financial Services. As part of groundbreaking legislation signed by Governor Cuomo last week to prevent foreclosures and curb the threat posed to communities by “zombie properties” across the state, DFS will maintain an electronic registry of vacant and abandoned properties. New Yorkers are encouraged to call for information about unoccupied and ill-maintained properties in their neighborhoods. If a property is not already in the statewide registry, DFS will identify the mortgage servicer to facilitate appropriate remedial actions as outlined in the legislation.
“Abandoned homes drag down surrounding property values, and the longer they languish, the more severe the ripple effects are that affect entire communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “This hotline empowers New Yorkers to preserve their American Dream, take back their neighborhoods and ensure that these properties are renovated, restored and occupied."
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said, “This hotline will help localities address the scourge of abandoned homes, which drag down property values and create unsafe conditions across New York State. The hotline provides added teeth to the recently passed zombie home legislation, facilitating compliance and a path out of the crisis that has persisted years after the housing crash hit. I applaud Governor Cuomo, Senator Klein, and Assembly Member Weinstein for partnering with my office in this effort, and for making this critical issue a priority.”
Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said, "DFS stands ready to work with New Yorkers living in communities that are affected by unmaintained vacant and abandoned properties. The registry is a powerful tool for both homeowners and local officials and we encourage all New Yorkers living near “zombie” properties to call DFS so that we can take appropriate action to make sure those responsible are held accountable.”
Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein said, "If you see a vacant property in your neighborhood, pick up the phone and report it. This new, toll-free hotline and online registry will track the thousands of zombie properties across our state, and will ensure that the Department of Financial Services can take action when necessary. I fought hard to make this law to hold banks accountable for zombie properties stuck in the legal limbo of foreclosure a reality and I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking swift action. No community should be marred by ill-maintained homes with broken windows, falling facades and unlocked doors.”
The new registry and hotline are part of several provisions that will help to prevent people from losing their homes and address the scope of unoccupied and ill-maintained properties, which based on voluntary reporting, is estimated to be over 6,000. Under the new law, reporting is now mandatory, and the number of abandoned homes is anticipated to be even higher. New Yorkers can contact the Department of Financial Services (DFS) at (800) 342-3736 or online at www.dfs.ny.gov.
ADDITIONAL INITIATIVES TO COMBAT ZOMBIE PROPERTIES
The “zombie properties” legislation also includes measures to assist homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure, improve the efficiency and integrity of the mandatory settlement conferences, and establishes a pre-foreclosure duty to maintain on mortgagees, create an expedited foreclosure process for vacant and abandoned properties, create an electronic vacant property registry, and establish a Consumer Bill of Rights.
Additionally, the FY 2017 Budget invests nearly $20 billion for comprehensive statewide housing and homelessness action plans. Over the next five years, the $10 billion housing initiative will create and preserve 100,000 affordable housing units across the State, and the $10 billion homelessness action plan will create 6,000 new supportive housing beds, 1,000 emergency beds, and a variety of expanded homelessness services.
As part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to assist future homebuyers and existing homeowners, this investment includes more than $100 million in available funds to help new homebuyers purchase and renovate “Zombie” properties and support existing low- and middle-income homeowners with major repairs and renovations. Funding is available through the New York State Homes and Community Renewal to establish the new Neighborhood Revitalization Program and provide grants for not-for-profit organizations and municipalities throughout the state to rehabilitate, repair and improve homes.