City Officials Seek Help Finding Zombie Houses

Vince DeJoy, city development director, talking with the Jamestown City Council Housing Committee about applying for a second Zombie and Vacant Properties Remediation and Prevention Initiative program grant. City officials are asking city residents to go online to jamestownny.net to fill out a form if they know where a zombie house is located in the city. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

City officials are asking residents for their assistance in identifying abandoned properties ,otherwise known as zombie houses.

On Monday, Vince DeJoy, city development director, said city officials are in the process of applying for a second Zombie and Vacant Properties Remediation and Prevention Initiative program grant. In October 2016, city officials received its first state zombie grant for just under $150,000. Now city officials are applying for around $200,000 through the program.

DeJoy said in order to have a complete picture of all of the zombie properties in the city to be as accurate as possible on the application, city officials are asking residents to notify them online if they know where an abandoned house is located. He said if people go to the city’s website — jamestownny.net — and look under the development/housing tab, they can report a vacant house. Also, people can call the Department of Development office at 483-7542 to report an abandoned house.

DeJoy said it is a simple form asking for the street address and description of the property, with the ability to download a photo as well. He said people who submit a form will not have their names disclosed publicly.

With the new possible grant, DeJoy said city officials are looking to expand their legal capacity, specifically to go after those responsible for maintaining an abandoned house so it does not fall into disrepair.

DeJoy said the application for the second zombie grant is due March 8.

The funds from the first Zombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative program addressed housing vacancy and blight by bolstering municipalities’ capacity for housing code enforcement, for tracking and monitoring vacant properties and for legal enforcement capacity to ensure banks and mortgage companies comply with local and state law. The grant also require communities to develop innovative programs and policies and connect at-risk homeowners to services, so they can avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.

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