BUFFALO, N.Y. - Volunteers and local leaders will team up this weekend for neighborhood "zombie sweeps" to track down so-called zombie properties - abandoned, bank-owned properties that are left to fall apart.
Assemblyman Mickey Kearns talked about the initiative at a news conference Friday morning. The sweeps are taking place Saturday in the Old First Ward and in the Valley community in Buffalo.
Kearns says there are 166 reported zombie properties in his district, which includes West Seneca, Orchard Park, Lackawanna and part of Buffalo.
The Foreclosure Relief Act went into effect back in December and requires banks and mortgage lenders to report all foreclosed properties to the Department of Finance. Kearns says during these walk-throughs they'll make sure zombie properties aren't going unreported.
Two On Your Side asked what specifically is being done to fix the problem once zombie properties are identified.
"Let's say you find the problem. You identify the home. It's on the list, and you've checked it off. It has been formally reported. Now what do you do to get rid of it?" asked reporter Heather Ly.
"Report it to DFS (Department of Financial Services)," said Kearns. "And they have to comply. That's the law now. We want people to file a complaint with the Department of Financial Services. We'll work with the Western New York Law Center to see where it is in the foreclosure process. And we'll reach out. We have contact information now that we didn't have before."
Kearns also proposed legislation to increase the fine from $500 to $1000 per day when banks or mortgage lenders fail to maintain zombie properties.