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Erie County Clerk pledges to hold bank responsible for Cheektowaga zombie home

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns saw our story, saying he will help to come up with a solution to help fix the safety hazard and eyesore that is 119 Crescent Court.

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — Just a day after Jean Hoagland came to 2 On Your Side because of a zombie home, she and neighbors have complained about to the Town of Cheektowaga for years.

They're finally getting some relief. 

"Finally, someone is listening to us, and that was the biggest frustration," Hoagland said. 

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns saw our story, and he pledged to help fix the safety hazard and eyesore that is 119 Crescent Court. That starts with making the Delaware-based bank that owns the estate property take responsibility.

"Wilmington Savings Fund should be ashamed of themselves," Kearns said. "They promised. They promised to do numerous repairs on this property, and they lied to us. And if you're watching, we're going to hold you accountable. If I have to personally reach out to the judge, I will do that."

The final stage of the foreclosure is being handled in State Supreme Court. 

Under New York's Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Act, service providers and banks can be fined up to $500 a day for not taking care of a foreclosed property, money that goes directly to the municipalities.

Kearns worked on that as an assemblyman, as well as the Zombie Property Task Force that targets those homes across the region.

"Zombie properties are down. However, we need the neighbors to reach out to us and contact us because we want to know about these properties because no one should be living with blight in their neighborhood," Kearns said. 

The Western New York Law Center, which is in charge of the task force, filed a complaint about 119 Crescent Court with the department of financial services in November 2018.

The promise of a solution is just what neighbors needed to hear. 

"I'm happy, the neighborhood will be very happy," Hoagland said.

Managing attorney Samantha Axberg says Western New York cannot afford to let zombie homes sit around any longer. 

"Inventory is low," Axberg said. "We don't want more and more estate properties to build up and not be options for people who need housing."

However, in a statement from WSFS, officials say WSFS does not own the property and doesn't service it either.

2 On Your Side asked why WSFS would be listed in the foreclosure documents then. This was the response we got:  

"Our name is likely on it because we hold a national bank charter and owners/investors (who bought the mortgage back securities) are using our charter for legal title of the loans. WSFS acts as a Trustee on behalf of many trusts that hold various real estate properties; however, we are not involved in the decision-making process or what properties are held in the various trusts."

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