FULTON, NY – The Fulton Common Council has approved a resolution to allow city officials to apply for state grant funding to combat zombie properties throughout the city.
“Zombie properties are properties that the bank has foreclosed on and they just sit idle. A lot of people around Fulton see a property sitting idle and think the city owns it but in many, many of the cases we don’t, the bank owns them,” Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said.
Woodward explained that with zombie properties, the bank will pay taxes on the properties but will not put the properties in their name, won’t sell them, and instead just let them sit. This ties the hands of city officials because they are unable to violate the bank through code enforcement and can not put the house in tax foreclosure.
Meanwhile, the properties remain vacant while the city then mows the lawns and otherwise maintains the properties as much as possible.
“Eventually, they don’t need them anymore and eventually when we do get them, they need to be torn down,” Woodward said.
The city will apply for state grant funding through the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) for the Zombie and Vacant Property Remediation and Prevention Initiative for the maximum amount of $150,000.
New state legislation on combat zombie properties was immediately put into legislation by Governor Andrew Cuomo to take effect in December that requires the banks to either put the property in their name or turn the property over to the city.
Executive Director of the Fulton Community Development Agency, Joe Fiumara explained that the LISC grants are compliments of this new legislation and Fulton and other municipalities, including neighboring city, Oswego, were invited to apply for the grant if they had a certain size concentration of zombie properties in the community, however all applying municipalities must still demonstrate the need for funding.
He also explained how the funding would be used.
“It’s going to be used directly to update some software systems in our code enforcement department to include a database that will track and monitor these zombie homes. We’re also going to do an outreach campaign that will try and reach out to families at risk of losing their homes because of foreclosure,” he said. “We want to try to intervene before the eleventh hour, we want to make sure we are offering every type of remedy possible before there’s a relocation issue.”
The city of Fulton homes almost 100 zombie properties right now, “and that’s between bank foreclosures that are still in the old residents name, or banks have already taken over the transition of the property, or other properties that have been abandoned,” Fiumara said.
The grant application deadline is Friday (August 19) and Fiumara was told to expect to hear the results by “early fall.”