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LISC Chosen to Deploy $9 Million for “Zombies 2.0” Grant Program

LISC has been selected to develop and administer the second phase of a substantial grant initiative that turns "zombie" and vacant properties across New York State into liveable and affordable homes for families. This next round of the program, which will support 40 municipalities, also helps connect at-risk homeowners with foreclosure prevention resources.

LISC has been selected to develop and administer the second round of a statewide “zombie” and vacant homes remediation and prevention grant program. Known as “Zombies 2.0”, the initiative expands on an earlier program to address vacant and abandoned homes in New York State, including those known as “zombies” because they are caught in prolonged foreclosure proceedings. 

Zombies 2.0 will provide up to $9 million in grants to help municipalities across the state increase housing code enforcement, track and monitor vacant properties, and bolster legal enforcement capacity to ensure banks and mortgage companies comply with local and state law. 

LISC created and administered the first round of the Zombie and Vacant Remediation and Prevention Initiative, with funds generated by the New York Attorney General settlements with banks. Beginning in 2016, LISC provided ongoing technical assistance and oversight for nearly $13 million in grants to 76 New York municipalities. The work included connecting at-risk homeowners to foreclosure prevention resources, the HOPP network in particular—a key facet of the program.

This year’s grants will enable some previous recipients to continue their work, and will give first-time grantees the opportunity to secure funding to support their zombie and vacant property efforts.

A former zombie home, given new life, in Tonawanda, NY.
A former zombie home, given new life, in Tonawanda, NY.

LISC will draw on its experience supervising the previous zombie grant pool to help cities, towns and villages make the most of this second round. “Municipalities all over the state are reducing their number of vacant homes, energizing their local economies and improving their long-term quality of life,” said Helene Caloir, director of LISC’s New York Stabilization Fund. “One vacant house gets spruced up and soon there are prospective purchasers; surrounding neighbors start investing more in their homes as nearby properties improve; and the entire community is lifted. House by house, block by block, neighborhoods are on the upswing.” 

LISC is developing and running Zombies 2.0 with funds administered by Enterprise Community Partners. LISC has issued a Request for Applications by invitation to municipalities based on the number of abandoned residential properties within the municipality; the proportion of such properties compared to the overall number of residential properties; and its level of general economic distress. All invitees must have populations of at least 5,000 residents and at least 100 vacant and abandoned properties, or multiple municipalities can apply jointly to equal or exceed the population and vacant residential properties minimums. 

LISC expects to award grants in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 based on the scale and severity of their “zombie” and other vacant one-to-four family house problems. To see a list of municipalities invited to apply, click here. And to learn more about LISC's New York Stabilization Fund, contct Helene Caloir at hcaloir@lisc.org.

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