Town seeks to hire coordinator to lead push against zombie homes

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Since receiving a $159,000 grant, the town has hosted a number of seminars to try addressing and preventing foreclosures. (Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)
Since receiving a $159,000 grant, the town has hosted a number of seminars to try addressing and preventing foreclosures. (Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)

The Town of North Hempstead is seeking someone to head a new agency targeting vacant properties, according to a request for proposal filed by the town, in an effort to reduce the number of ‘zombie homes’ in town.

The position will be funded by a $159,000 grant received in 2016 from the state Attorney General’s office as part of a statewide initiative to combat vacant properties, which are linked to lower property values and increase crime rates.

“Zombie properties have a debilitating impact on our communities,” Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said.

Town officials said that having a head coordinator for the one-year Housing Quality Improvement Program would allow the town to assemble a list of abandoned properties and create a plan to address them.

Carole Trottere, a town spokeswoman, said the town currently estimates the number of zombie homes as “somewhere in the 30s.”

Among the contractor’s responsibilities would be creating a database, conducting external inspections of vacant properties, manage correspondence between parties, and research using public records, according to the July 9 request for proposal.

The coordinator’s responsibilities would also include providing monthly reports, maintaining records for grant management, working with the public with mortgage assistance, and other items.

Part of the $159,000 is also slated for public outreach through seminars and announcements, as well as an initiative to educate residents about the Homeowner Protection Program and the Mortgage Assistant Program.

Town officials said that while North Hempstead has access to state data about delinquent mortgages and a building department database with homes cited for violations related to abandonment, this position will create a “comprehensive list” of every house within the town.

“It is our hope that by having a dedicated Housing Quality Improvement Program Coordinator that we can acquire a thorough and comprehensive list of troubled properties in the Town and find the right plan to address each of them,” Bosworth said.

Proposals are due no later than July 31.

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