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More than $2M in 'zombie' funds coming to WNY

New York is allocating $12.6 million to 76 municipalities across the state to address the problem of vacant properties and so-called zombie homes that are not maintained during a prolonged foreclosure. Locally, the City of Buffalo and Amherst/Williamsville are each receiving $350,000; Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga and the Town of Tonawanda $250,000 each; West Seneca and Hamburg $175,000 each; Lockport and the City of Tonawanda  $150,000 each; Jamestown $147.970; Lackawanna, Evans and Olean $100,000 each; and North Tonawanda $90,000.

The funds come from the Zombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative, which the New York Attorney General's Office established in July with funds drawn from a $3.2 billion settlement agreement with Morgan Stanley regarding residential mortgages negotiated in February.

The AG's Office says some 16,000 zombie properties across New York invite crime and threaten surrounding housing values. Initiative funds can be used to rebuild, revitalize and stabilize communities.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster says the funds will be used as part of the city's Zombie Fight Project. He says the project "will use better technology and data-based strategies to address vacancy, and most importantly, responsibility in our neighborhoods. This grant allows us to focus in on this issue with a level of resource that is often not available to local municipalities."

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a national community development intermediary that specializes in affordable housing, economic development and community revitalization, is overseeing the initiative; selected the grantees; and will be providing technical assistance to the funded municipalities as they implement their plans.