October 2015 Column - Efforts underway to reduce number of Zombie Properties in suburban, rural towns

Vacant homes, referred to as Zombie Properties, are becoming a serious problem across Erie County.  A recent report released by Assemblyman Michael Kearns shows there are approximately 800 Zombie Properties in this region, greatly affecting our neighborhoods.


In many cases, the homes are not properly maintained and quickly deteriorate into major eyesores, bringing down property values. Many homes are simply abandoned by banks while a foreclosure is pending.  This abandonment and deterioration often results in safety hazards at the properties.


Nobody wants to live next to an abandoned home. In fact, in many of the 800 Erie County properties, potential buyers have shown interest, but bank foreclosure procedures block that from happening for years. When the process is complete, the homes are often in serious disrepair, making it impossible for many of the potential homebuyers to invest the time and money it would take to repair.


Historically, the majority of Zombie Homes were found in cities and first-ring suburbs, but that is no longer the case. Almost every single municipality in Erie County is currently dealing with this issue. Based on Assemblyman Kearns’ report, my legislative district currently has 127 vacant homes (Aurora – 17; Colden – 1; East Aurora – 5; Elma – 13 and West Seneca – 91). While the timeline for each property differs, some homes sit vacant for years while the banks finish foreclosure.


At the most recent Finance and Management Committee, where I serve as Chairman, we had an enlightening discussion with Assemblyman Kearns and the Western New York Law Center.  Our discussion focused on reviewing the issue and discussing what steps can be taken to remedy the problem. I also sponsored a resolution in support of New York State legislation that call on banks to better maintain properties going through foreclosure. I anticipate my resolution will receive unanimous support at the Legislature’s next session, and that Erie County will join efforts to bring overdue change and help to our local neighborhoods.


I would like to thank Assemblyman Kearns for his leadership on this issue, as he has brought much-needed attention through his “Bank Shaming Campaign.” That campaign targets specific banks at specific houses to demonstrate that these aren’t just numbers, but actual homes in actual neighborhoods that are striving to flourish.


Through this effort, municipalities are coming together to pressure banks to complete foreclosures as quickly as possible. It is in the best interest of our cities, town and villages that these homes are sold to actual buyers, so that new families are given the chance to invest in our region.


If you have any questions or have an issue with a vacant home in your neighborhood, please contact my office at 858-8922 or email joseph.lorigo@erie.gov

Legislator Lorigo



Phone: (716) 858-8922
Fax: (716) 858-8818

Legislator Joseph C. Lorigo - District 10
Old Erie County Hall
92 Franklin Street, 4th Floor
Buffalo, NY 14202