JAMESTOWN – City development director Vince DeJoy is asking for the public’s help in identifying abandoned – or zombie – properties in the city.
Zombie properties are homes that have been abandoned by an owner due to foreclosure problems, but the ownership has yet to be regained by the lending agency or bank the owner is indebted to.
During a report to both the city housing committee and later to the full city council on Monday night, DeJoy said his office is applying for a $200,000 state grant that would focus on addressing abandoned and zombie homes in the city. The funding comes from the state Zombie and Vacant Properties Remediation and Prevention Initiative program, which gave the city $150,000 in 2016.
DeJoy said the deadline for the grant application is March 8 and in order to have accurate information on the number of zombie properties in the city, he’s asking residents to come forward and report any possible zombie properties in the coming weeks.
That information will then be checked by his staff to verify whether or not the homes are in fact abandoned and if they are, the information will be added to the grant application. He said the state is also supposed to have a database of all foreclosed properties in every community, but sometimes a zombie property – which is still in the foreclosure process – won’t appear on the list and as a result, it doesn’t get the attention it needs.
“There’s a database that the state has that’s supported to be reported by lenders when a house is in foreclosure,” DeJoy explained. “Generally What we do is once a house appears on that list we automatically send it out for code inspection. And if there are health and safety-type violations that we can see from the exterior, then we will cite that house and make the lender accountable.”
To report a zombie property, visit the zombie property report page at the city website or call the department of development office at 483-7542.