- Building Department
- Soils and Residential Foundation Study
- Zombie and Vacant Property Remediation and Prevention Initiative
- Engineering Department
- Other Agencies - NFTA
- Planning Department
Western New York Law Center
WNY Law Center Hotlines
Phone: (716) 855-0203
Mortgage Foreclosure Assistance: Ext. 118
Tax Foreclosure Assistance: Ext. 124
Bankruptcy Assistance: Ext. 121
Consumer Debt Assistance: Ext. 122
The issue of vacant and abandoned zombie foreclosures is one that has plagued Western New York for years. While the problem is widely known, the scope and scale of the problem has been hard to determine. The difficulty stems from banks assigning mortgages in bulk, discharge mortgages and walk away from properties based on internal decisions, and drag their feet in foreclosure actions to avoid more negative assets on their books. Banks benefit from a foreclosure system that allows them to hide behind the process and claim no interest in a property. Time and time again, when asked by neighbors to maintain a home, banks deny responsibility while paying the taxes to protect their investment in the property. Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns and the Western New York Law Center have been working with municipalities, local governments, and community members to bring light to this issue and develop clear resolutions to address the blight in our neighborhoods.
The Bank Shame Campaign Accountability Report of May 11, 2016 includes properties received from the New York Department of Financial Services, JP Morgan Chase, and from research conducted by the WNY Law Center and Assemblyman Kearns’ office.
In May 2015, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) published their “Report on New York’s Foreclosure Process.” Their analysis focused on average lengths of most phases of the foreclosure process, specifically from the filing of the foreclosure action to the auction of the foreclosed property. As that data clearly showed, a longer foreclosure process is associated with greater debt and a lower likelihood of the homeowner obtaining a loan modification. Furthermore, the DFS report concluded that many homeowners experience frequent and unnecessary delays throughout the process. This report supplements those findings by focusing on an earlier and more specific time frame—from the initial default date to the first mandatory settlement conference in Erie County, one of the NYS Counties with an extremely high number of foreclosures . The number of days that are allowed to pass between the initial default and the filing of foreclosure action is crucial to include, as it is a period of time during which the homeowner is accruing debt. This report aims to provide a more accurate understanding of how far homeowners are behind when they first have access to the mandatory settlement conference, further contextualizing data regarding ultimate case outcomes.