© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Preventing zombie homes in Buffalo

WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

There's a house on McKinley Parkway in South Buffalo with neighbors cutting the grass because they can't get any action from a Michigan bank which owns the property and won't sell. 

It's part of a whole segment of the housing market causing problems in local neighborhoods, cities and suburbs. 

The ill-maintained homes taken over by banks, sometimes referred to as 'zombie homes' are where the banks started to foreclose and the residents left, but the banks didn't complete the foreclosures.

The situation is so bad that South District Common Council member Christopher Scanlon and his staff go out and cut grass on some of these buildings.

Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond
Overgrown around the vacant home.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said it's a city-wide problem.

"In other parts of the city, these properties can become so bad, these zombie properties, these uncompleted bank foreclosures that the city has no choice but to send in the Impact Team to try to provide some maintenance so the adjacent property owners and the nearby property owners don't have to suffer through those blighted conditions," said Mayor Brown.

Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond
Neighborhood that surrounds vacant at 124 McKinley in South Buffalo.

Edit | Remove

Local lawmakers want state law changed to force banks to admit who owns a home and who is responsible to maintain it. 

Lawmakers also want to consider the creation of a possible prison term for bank executives who leave buildings to decay in a quality community like the area in South Buffalo affected by 124 McKinley.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.