On May 9, 2017, over twenty vacant houses were inspected by Community Development, Code Enforcement and Fire Department staff as part of the Niagara Falls Zombie Fight Project (ZFP), with more to come. Mayor Paul Dyster: “With the help of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, our ZFP can help eliminate vacancy and hold property owners accountable in Niagara Falls.”
In late 2016, the Niagara Falls Community Development Department (CD) was awarded a grant from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to fund the ZFP and enforce the Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Law. As part of the LISC grant, Christine Marino joined the CD team as the Zombie Fight Project Coordinator in April 2017. The addition of staff dedicated specifically to the ZFP shows a clear commitment from the City of Niagara Falls to the project. Christine Marino: “The community is at the core of this effort, and the assistance from the neighborhoods, as well as support from city forces is encouraging."
Since the addition of dedicated staff, ZFP has seen many successes. The completion of the first round of on-site inspections was met with immediate response from various property owners who expeditiously corrected cited code violations. ZFP will dispatch the second round of inspections on these properties in June, and plans to see a similar result.
Holding property owners accountable is only one piece of the puzzle. There is also a strong focus on community outreach to ensure that homeowners in danger of foreclosure are aware of their legal rights, made aware of scams, and are made aware of resources available to them to avoid foreclosure.
ZFP held a general public meeting on May 22, 2017 and will also be hosting a follow up session on home owner rights:
NF Zombie Fight Project: Homeowners’ Rights Meeting
Tuesday, June 6
City Council Chambers
(745 Main St. Niagara Falls, NY 14301)