HPD Zombie Homes Initiative

Organization Name: Office of Neighborhood Strategies, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Project Title: HPD Zombie Homes Initiative

Project Location: Citywide

Project Goals:
Over the course of a one-year pilot program, the Zombie Homes Initiative will:
- Conduct 500 exterior surveys of potential zombie homes in Central Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, Staten Island, and the South Bronx;
- Help enforce the Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2016 by collecting evidence of zombie homes that are not being maintained and sharing this with the NYC Law Department, which will pursue civil penalties against non-compliant mortgage holders as appropriate;
- Build a comprehensive database of indicators of vacancy, blight, and foreclosure in small homes city-wide and develop a predictive model that analyzes indicators in the database to identify potential zombie homes;
- Research and develop strategies for returning zombie homes to productive use; and
- Send out 20,000 mailings and conduct 15,000 robocalls to homeowners at risk of foreclosure to inform them about HPD and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods’ foreclosure prevention resources.

Project Description:
In the summer of 2017, HPD launched the Zombie Homes Initiative to better understand the scope of the “zombie” homes problem in NYC and to develop strategies to address them. With funding from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), HPD created a new team within the Office of Neighborhood Strategies. This team works with City, State, and community partners to conduct data analysis and research to understand why homes become abandoned; ensure that banks meet their obligations to maintain zombie homes under the Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2016; develop strategies to return zombie homes to productive use and to address inequities in homeownership access; as well as connect struggling homeowners with the tools to stay in their homes. Taken together, these efforts seek to transform vacant and neglected buildings into affordable, high-quality homes for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

Community Impact:
The Zombie Homes Initiative is working with City, State, and community partners to address the challenges posed by the more than 200 zombie homes citywide. By returning vacant and deteriorated homes to productive use, the Initiative will stabilize neighborhoods burdened by abandonment and blight, thereby protecting public health and safety and bolstering property values. The Initiative will also promote affordable homeownership by both helping struggling homeowners to remain in their homes and turning rehabbed zombie proprieties into new affordable homes.

The Zombie Homes Initiative is engaging the community through “Zombie Walks,” group survey events to canvass zombie homes across the city. The Zombie Walks give our partners the opportunity to better understand the zombie homes problem and the effect these properties have on neighborhoods.

Organization Description:
The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the largest municipal housing agency in the country. The agency's mission is to promote the construction and preservation of affordable, high-quality housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers in thriving and diverse neighborhoods across the city. HPD strives to achieve this mission by enforcing housing quality standards, financing affordable housing development and preservation, and ensuring sound management of the City's affordable housing stock. HPD’s Office of Neighborhood Strategies is charged with ensuring that HPD’s development and preservation efforts are guided by meaningful community engagement and coordinated with public investments in infrastructure and services to foster more equitable, diverse, and livable neighborhoods.

    A zombie home in Brownsville, Brooklyn

    HPD’s new Zombie Homes Team conducting surveys

    HPD staff participating in a “Zombie Walk”

    Zombie homes in East New York, Brooklyn

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