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Banks' inaction on zombie homes likened to a 'hangover'

Thomas O'Neil-White

Having your house foreclosed on can be a nightmarish ordeal, yet one woman is sharing her plight with the public. Deborah Chrzanowski spoke today at a press conference Friday in downtown Buffalo, recounting the issues she faced after losing her home.

“In the course of seven years, my home went back and forth through the foreclosure process. Harassing phone calls from various lending institutions became frequent and so confusing that I no longer knew who owned the property and what my responsibilities were,” said Chrzanowski

Assemblyman Michael Kearns started a “Shame Campaign” last year in order to publicly reprimand banks who kick people out of their homes. These properties become so-called “zombie homes,” houses that are unoccupied and lack regular maintenance because the banks will not pay for it.

The homes end up bringing down the property value of their neighborhood. Kearns calls it an “epidemic” and says banks can't hide any longer.

“I think the biggest thing we have to understand is the crises was started by the banks. They were the ones that almost bankrupt this country. They now have to be accountable and responsible to us,” Kearns said.

Kearns said progress is being made and his colleagues in the Assembly “want to see action.”

“The banking industry, finally has been more accountable and more responsible in the sense of, they’re working to tighten up restrictions on getting a mortgage. However, we have a problem. It’s almost like a hangover. We have a housing hangover,” he added

Kearns went on to say that the banks cannot walk away from these houses or the community. He threatened divesture from banks if they continue the practices.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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