MASTIC-SHIRLEY

A focus on zombie homes

Sunderman gets task force finalized

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The quantity of unlivable, vacant homes in Suffolk County has significantly increased over the past 15 years. The Suffolk County Legislature passed a bill last month to take a closer look at the zombie home crisis in the county that will enact a Zombie Home Task Force, which Legis. Rudy Sunderman drafted the resolution for.

“We have a widespread problem with vacant and foreclosed homes throughout Suffolk County,” Sunderman said. “Since taking office, I have worked hard within my own community to combat vacant homes through programs such as the Suffolk County Landbank Corporation, but more needs to be done.”

Sunderman added that there has been a slew of inquiries regarding the topic since he took office. He said that is all the more reason to establish a task force of this nature countywide.

“Let's get to the bottom of this and come up with solutions,” Sunderman said, continuing on to explain his plans, including productive communication with banks as well as other levels of government.

The task force will meet biweekly and consist of 25 members, including Suffolk County department heads, representatives from the 10 townships within the county, representatives from the banking industry, realtors and veterans service agencies.

“There is a large number of homes that are considered in distress in Suffolk County,” Sunderman said, pointing out the additional concerns revolving around housing due to the economic shutdown caused by COVID-19. “I fear this number will increase. It is time to be proactive on this problem.”

Sunderman also pointed out the concerns for a neighbor of a zombie home, including neighboring home values, quality-of-life issues and the possibility of the presence of squatters and illegal drugs.

“This was an important piece of legislation to put together,” Sunderman said, adding that the bill received bipartisan cosponsorship by 10 other legislators in a matter that passed unanimously through the Legislature.

Sunderman’s Office disseminated a press release in November that outlines the general duties required of the task force’s members.

“This task force will be charged with examining and evaluating the zombie home crisis in Suffolk County, identifying communities with large proportions of zombie homes, and developing recommendations and strategies to reduce the number of zombie homes, promote homeownership, and increase community revitalization,” the press release reads. “At the conclusion, the task force will issue a written report containing its findings and recommendations. The report shall also contain recommendations on how Suffolk County can increase community revitalization efforts and promote homeownership in areas that have been blighted by the zombie home crisis.”

Sunderman said the task force is the first step toward solving the zombie home crisis in Suffolk County.

“If we can make a positive impact that helps to benefit communities struggling with zombie homes, we can help to improve the overall quality of life for everyone in Suffolk County,” Sunderman continued.

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