Fighting Zombie Properties, Blight Takes Greater Focus For Jamestown Leaders

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JAMESTOWN – The push to clean up blight and abandoned “zombie properties” in Jamestown is continuing as local leaders are seeking federal funding to help in the process.

The City of Jamestown is preparing to send its Community Development Block Grant action plan to federal officials for consideration. If approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the city could get a large scope of funding to help address the issue.

Jamestown’s Director of Development Crystal Surdyk tells WNY News Now if the city is successful in obtaining the funds, several programs will benefit including some to help rehab dilapidated homes.

“Depending on which program we end up using for each circumstance, we do have a homeowner repair, a homeowner rehab program and that would actually look at the house and we would inspect the house from top to bottom, inside and out and we would not every code violation that might exist,” said Surdyk.

As for what residents can do right now, Surdyk says try helping out those in need.

“Do they need help mowing the lawn, do they need help painting the porch? Are there things that you can do to lend a hand, and you know, checking in on your neighbor is a great thing to do anyway,” said Surdyk.

Beyond the neighborhood, the Development Director is working with others to tackle the problem citywide, however, she needs help from everyone in identifying issues.  

“If you see a zombie house on your street, report it. You can report it right on the city website. Let us know. Don’t be afraid to file a code complaint if you see something,” said Surdyk.

Surdyk believes that bringing code violations to light can help homeowners best address the problem before it gets out of hand.

If a home continues to fall into disrepair, the City of Jamestown will work with other agencies to help fix these issues.

 As a last resort, the city can take legal action to hold the owner responsible, as seen in a new initiative launched last week

“Our goal is not to get as many people into court as possible, it’s to avoid court if we can. So we really want to work with you and find ways to address the properties,” said Surdyk.

The City of Jamestown has also applied for funding to help further the new ‘Hands on Neighborhoods’ cleanup effort that is taking place this summer.


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