Erie County Legislature Chairwoman April N.M. Baskin announced the roll out of the Erie County Legislature Vacant & Abandoned Properties (VAP) Community Resource Team on the steps of Old County Hall last Tuesday morning. This program was made possible by a $200,000 allocation Baskin secured in the 2020 Erie County budget to address properties that are not bank-owned but may need remediation or rehabilitation.
After a 2019 meeting with the local Board of Block Clubs, Baskin approached the Western NY Law Center with an idea focused on community resource collaboration that would address the high number of vacant properties across Erie County. Unlike “zombie properties”, many of these houses in the City of Buffalo are privately owned without bank involvement. Often times, families inherit properties from deceased relatives or landlords may abandon them after damage caused by tenants.
The continued decay and lack of upkeep causes many of these homes to fall into disrepair, while inviting crime and pests into residential neighborhoods. Tax delinquency is another common cause of owner abandonment, especially during times of economic distress like the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the help of the WNY Law Center, a dedicated team of legal professionals and a community liaison will now be able to service these homes, the residents, and the neighborhoods where they exist by addressing the legal and community issues that may prevent the owners from either occupying or selling.
“This idea came directly from community leaders, and I am always proud when we are able to deliver for the people, especially when it comes to safe and fair housing issues. These services, offered free of charge, will transform blocks in the City of Buffalo and neighborhoods across Erie County in very positive ways,” Chair April Baskin stated. “I’m grateful my colleagues unanimously supported this idea in the 2020 budget, and I truly appreciate the work of Kate Lockhart and her entire team.”
“This program will bring much needed resources to address vacant and abandoned properties across Erie County,” added Ms. Lockhart, Vacant & Abandoned Properties Program Director at the WNY Law Center.. This program would not be possible without the leadership of Chair Baskin and the support of the entire Erie County Legislature,”
To contact the team with concerns or questions, please call Aisha Thornton, Community Liaison at (716) 855-0203, ext. 129 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.