Kaminsky announces ‘zombie home’ database and cleanup plan

Ownership of properties left in legal limbo


State Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced last month a new database and information-sharing system to identify, track and clean up hundreds of abandoned properties blighting Nassau County neighborhoods.

The combined effects of the recent financial crisis and devastation by Hurricane Sandy left many South Shore families unable to pay their mortgages, county representatives said, and they eventually abandoned their properties, which were seized by banks or other lenders. In many cases, houses fell into disrepair as they awaited foreclosure, becoming what are known as “zombie homes.”

According to Kaminsky, there are already mechanisms in place to allow local building departments to deal with abandoned homes, but even though they have the tools to maintain the properties, they often lack the resources to determine who the owners are and which banks to hold accountable for the work. The goal of the new countywide database, according to Kaminsky, is to increase the amount of data available to municipalities so they can pursue the right people and get the properties cleaned up.

Dealing with an abandoned home with no easily identifiable owner, he said, is a murky problem. “We don’t even really have a handle on where, or how big, the issue is or who the biggest offenders are,” Kaminsky added.

The database will catalog abandoned properties, the owners’ last known addresses, the relevant mortgage or lending services and the date they were added to the database. Though the information will be available only to municipalities with a password to the system, any resident can report a derelict home. The City of Long Beach will be the first community in Nassau County to share information with the new database, which is now live.

“We are pleased to be working with County Executive Mangano and Assemblyman Kaminsky on this essential database,” City Council President Len Torres said in a statement. “This program will help our building and police departments in enforcing quality-of-life regulations and protecting our community.”

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