Weekly Feature



2018-01-11 / Local News

New program aims to curb foreclosures, ‘zombie’ property issues in Erie County


Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns presents his new program to combat rising foreclosures and “zombie” properties in Western New York. Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns presents his new program to combat rising foreclosures and “zombie” properties in Western New York. The Neighborhood Foreclosure ALERT Program, a new initiative introduced by Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns, is a collaborative effort involving each municipality in Erie County to preserve neighborhoods and prevent foreclosures.

ALERT stands for “accessing lis pendens data for Erie County and reporting to towns, cities and villages,” according to the Erie County Clerk’s Office.

Through the program, Kearns will partner with municipality leaders to assist them in proactively monitoring foreclosures in their communities through pending filings at the clerk’s office.

According to Kearns’ office, notification of a pending filing will be made available to municipalities, alerting them that a foreclosure action has commenced in their community. The goal is to provide municipalities with earlier detection of a possible “zombie” property.

Kearns said that as Erie County clerk, he is uniquely positioned to provide community leaders with access to data that is vital to combating the zombie and foreclosure crisis.

“It is imperative that the clerk’s office has direct and specific information as to who in each municipality is responsible for handling zombie properties, so that the flow of information is seamless.”

The new Neighborhood Foreclosure ALERT Program database will be updated every Monday. Municipalities will receive login information to access the database and monitor any foreclosures in their communities.

In partnership with the WNY Law Center, Kearns will conduct training for municipal officials on how to report “zombie” properties and work with banks to move these vacant properties back onto the market. Using the tools and resources available to the clerk’s office to combat the foreclosure crisis is a top priority for his office, Kearns said.

“We will continue to be proactive in helping our neighborhoods bounce back from ‘zombie’ blight,” he said.

“The Western New York Law Center is proud to partner with Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns to empower municipalities to fight foreclosures in their neighborhoods. By providing data and training to municipalities, we have the potential to both increase the number of families saved from foreclosure and decrease the number of zombie homes across Erie County,” said Kate Lockhart, a paralegal with the center.

Another component of the program is to alert homeowners of any foreclosure action filed against their property and to notify the owner about the Residential Foreclosure Actions Consumer Bill of Rights, part of the 2016 NY Foreclosure Relief Act, co-sponsored by Kearns as a state assemblyman.

The first training session for municipality leaders will take place Friday, Jan. 26. Weekly reports to municipalities will begin Monday. Jan. 29.

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