The number of abandoned homes in New York City that are stuck in foreclosure proceedings reached 3,525 in 2014, a 38% rise from a year earlier, according to a report from New York Attorney General Eric Schneidermans office.
Schneiderman, Senate Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey D. Klein and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein on Monday introduced an expanded version of the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act. The modified bill is intended to expedite the foreclosure process on vacant properties and direct money collected for noncompliance of the law into a fund used to enforce the law.
The legislation would make banks and mortgage lenders responsible for the properties after theyve been vacated - or face penalties of as much as $1,000 a day. It also would require homeowners to be informed of their right to remain in their homes until a judge declares the foreclosure complete.
Similar legislation stalled in the New York Legislature a year ago, but Schneiderman hopes the modified bill will be approved by June.
Because foreclosure proceedings can linger for months and even years, homes are often left without upkeep and become problems for entire neighborhoods, the attorney general said.
Brooklyn had the highest number of so-called zombie properties with 1,089, followed by 966 in Queens, 720 in Staten Island and 639 in the Bronx. Manhattan had the fewest with just 111.
Statewide, zombie properties increased by 50% from 2013 to 2014, bringing the total number to 16,701, according to Schneidermans report, based on information from RealtyTrac.
"New York will never be able to fully recover from the devastation of the financial crisis until we seriously reckon with the crisis of zombies," he said. "The Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act will equip our local communities with the resources they need to halt the spread of abandoned and vacant homes. Albany can finally alleviate the burden that these blighted properties impose on our towns and cities by passing the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act during this legislative session."