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County lawmakers seek remedy for zombie homes

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Mike Desmond/WBFO News
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Erie County is asking Albany for some help in dealing with the problem of zombie homes. Officials believe the county is home to 800 zombie properties, vacant homes allowed to deteriorate as the foreclosure process grinds to a conclusion.

Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo knows about the zombie home issue because there is one in his West Seneca neighborhood. It is one of more than 90 in the town.

County legislators voted yesterday to ask for a change in state law which would speed up the foreclosure process, which currently leaves those homes vacant and deteriorating for up to six years.

According to Lorigo, the change would allow the county to "foreclose on properties that have been abandoned one year sooner, which means we could sell them off to people in the public who want to buy them, rehabilitate them and get them back on the tax rolls."

It's not clear if the problem is getting worse, although it probably has more visibility.

Albany has to change the law controlling a county foreclosure in order for that process to be sped up. Once the legislation in Albany has bill numbers in both houses, there will be a Home Rule message asking the Legislature to pass the change and for Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign it.