Zombie Homes Initiative

Zombie Homes Initiative

before and after photos of a zombie home
9 Marconi Place, Brownsville, before and after

“Zombie homes” can be defined as vacant, deteriorated small homes whose owners are behind on their mortgage payments. These properties are symbols of the effects of the foreclosure crisis in neighborhoods throughout the city. Owners of small homes are confronted with rising operating and maintenance costs, encounter barriers to credit, and struggle to make mortgage payments.

Thanks to funding from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), HPD launched the Zombie Homes Initiative in July 2017 to help implement and enforce the NYS Zombie Property and Foreclosure Act of 2016. The "Zombie Law" is state legislation requiring lenders and servicers to inspect, secure, maintain, and report zombie homes to the New York State Department of Financial Services. 

HPD Actions

Through the initiative, HPD:

  • Identifies and tracks properties that are likely to be zombie homes in the Zombie Homes Database
  • Conducts exterior surveys of zombie homes
  • Designs new approaches to return zombie homes to productive use
  • Provides resources to homeowners at risk of foreclosure
  • Collects evidence of zombie homes that are not being maintained and share it with the New York City Law Department, which pursues legal action against the banks and servicers as appropriate.

As of July 2019, HPD has conducted more than 500 exterior surveys of likely zombie homes, sent mailings and robocalls to more than 30,000 homeowners at risk of foreclosure with information about foreclosure-prevention resources, and referred 38 zombie homes to the Law Department. The Law Department has finalized settlement agreements on six of these properties and collected more than $180,000 in civil penalties. They are currently reviewing and negotiating settlements on the remaining properties.

In May 2019, LISC awarded HPD another grant to continue its work on zombie homes through June 2021. In addition to continuing its current work, HPD will support other municipalities that are interested in implementing similar initiatives and develop acquisition/disposition strategies to rehabilitate zombie homes and return them to productive use as affordable homeownership opportunities.

What You Can Do

Request City Action

If you believe a particular property requires City action, please follow these steps:

  • If the building presents an immediate danger or you suspect any illegal activity, please call 911.
  • If the building appears unsecured or structurally unsound, or if there is a public health risk (e.g. rodent activity, dirty sidewalk, or standing water that breeds mosquitoes), please report it to 311.

HPD cannot facilitate the sale of zombie homes.

Call the Homeowner Hotline

If you are struggling to make mortgage payments, please call the Center for New York City Neighborhoods Homeowner Hotline at 646-786-0888. The Center provides a variety of free and high-quality services for homeowners.

Submit a Complaint to the NYS Department of Financial Services

You may also file a complaint with the New York State Department of Financial Services to help gather evidence of mortgage holders’ non-compliance with the NYS Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Act. File a complaint by calling their consumer complaint hotline at 800-342-3736 or by filling out a consumer complaint form. Please note that this form is not a substitute for submitting a complaint to 311 or 911.