Kearns takes his “shame” campaign to Grand Island


GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Assemblyman Michael Kearns has been staging a weekly “Shame the Banks” campaign since August–hoping major banks would start taking care of the vacant properties they have foreclosed on.

Also called “Foreclosure Friday”, Kearns’ shame campaign has taken him to Buffalo, West Seneca, and Amherst.

Just to show all bank foreclosures, also known as “zombie properties”, are not limited to Buffalo and the first ring suburbs, the assemblyman took his campaign to Grand Island, Friday, blaming HSBC for the latest eyesore.

Kearns was accompanied by Grand Island Town Supervisor Mary Cooke, and Niagara Falls Assemblyman John Ceretto, who said angry neighbors have been calling his office about a bank foreclosed house on Alt Boulevard.

The house sits on prime waterfront property, and Grand Island officials point out, it is adjacent to a planned greenway the state is creating along the Niagara River.

Kearns said HSBC started foreclosure proceedings in 2012, and has not followed through. Cooke told reporters the town opened its file on the property six years ago, in 2009.

“When it was for sale, and it was probably a very nice home in 2009. Now it is not so nice, and there’s all sorts of probably mold issues, there was a window that was broken much of last winter. We have winter here. Houses are made to be lived in–when they are not lived in, all sorts of things happen.”

Ceretto said the neighbors are worried about the zombie’s effect on their property values, adding bank foreclosures are problem across New York.

“We are going to make sure that this doesn’t happen throughout the state, that these zombie homes go away, and we are going to make people accountable–the banks accountable–so that they take care of these homes, and we make sure that their investment is protected.”

The point of Kearns’ shame campaign is when there is a foreclosure like the house on Alt Boulevard, and the bank–in this case HSBC–doesn’t complete the foreclosure,
It leads to a domino effect: the homeowners who are still the legal owners move out, the property can’t be sold, so it ends up becoming a “zombie”.

As long as the bank pays the property taxes, town officials said they can’t do much with it.

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