Mayor Richard W. Thomas sent out a passionate plea in form of a letter to the residents of the City of Mount Vernon, Tuesday to garner community support in his promise to rid Mt. Vernon of 54 Zombie Homes. In his letter, the mayor calls for the residents to pressure the City Council and the Comptroller to allocate the funds to do so, including an online petition for the residents to sign.
Back in January 2016 when the mayor tried to make good on his campaign promise to rid the city fo the zombie homes, his actions in the demolition of a zombie home located at 136 Park Avenue, were met with subpoenas, a drawn out court battle and most recently a lawsuit against the city because of non-payment, which led to the highly publicized Civil War in City Hall. So this time the mayor is attempting to take it to the people and in hopes, they will pressure to Council and Comptroller to work with him. (below see the mayor’s letter.)
Since taking office in January of 2016, I have promised you that I would work tirelessly to take down the zombie structures that haunt our neighborhoods, bringing down property values and spreading crime and grime. I have worked hard to keep this promise but there is more work we must do.The good news is we have the resources. Mount Vernon’s fund balance is even higher than previous estimates indicate. A small allocation of the $25 million in the city’s rainy day fund can squash these zombies without any effect on the taxpayer. We are calling on The City Council and Comptroller Walker to allocate these funds so we can Tear Down Zombies.The zombie structures that plague the City of Mount Vernon must go. Not only are they hideous eyesores but many of them are a risk to public safety and health. Mount Vernon residents have lost an estimated $7.8 million in reduced property values due to the zombie buildings that currently exist in the city. We cannot allow these vampires to suck the life out of us anymore. Your voice is needed and we urge you to sign the “Tear Down Zombies” petition today.The Facts
- Blocking the removal of zombie structures is an attack on the quality of life!
- Ignoring our seniors while they live next to zombie structures is an attack on our elders!
- Allowing our kids to go to school across from a zombie structure is an attack on our young people!
- Refusing to pay hard-working contractors who clean up the city is an attack on the people of the Mount Vernon!
- Raising taxes but failing to raise property values by keeping these zombie structures around is an attack on homeowners!
- Keeping these zombie structures from the tax rolls instead of returning them and making them productive is an attack on our economy!
- Reneging on contracts because you wanted one of your friends to get the job is an attack on Mount Vernon’s reputation and ability to do business!Enough is Enough!Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has awarded Mount Vernon $175,000 in funding solely to hire individuals that will develop a comprehensive plan to strike back at these monsters and we are grateful to him for doing so.We Have The Resources! Tearing Down a Zombie costs approximately $30,000 to $50,000 – a fraction of the city’s overstuffed fund balance.Taxes Will Not Be Raised by Razing The Structures; the Only Thing That Will Increase is Property Values and Quality of Life!My administration is committed to taking these monuments to urban blight down but we cannot do it alone. The City Council’s obstructionist approach and the Comptroller’s refusal to release the necessary funds to Tear Down Zombie structures from our city confirms their complacency in the eroding of our community. Please join us in urging them to tear these structures down so we can build Mount Vernon up.Prevention in this is key also. We need to recognize the homeowners in trouble and reach them before they end up in foreclosure.
- There are programs initiated by the State Attorney General’s office like the Home Owner Protection Program and the Mortgage Assistance Program whose goals are to keep homeowners in the home.
- The Attorney General’s Office has also compiled a list of subsidized non-profit firms to help people in danger of losing their homes, along with a website, www.agscamhelp.com, where people can look for trust worthy legal help and report scams.
- The City’s Planning department, through a HUD grant, has initiated the Residential Rehabilitation Program. The program, operating with an over $350,000 budget, offers financial assistance for low and moderate income households for the repair, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.Together we can accomplish great things for our city and make Mount Vernon magnificent again, but real change is not a spectator sport. You have to speak up and join Team Go! Sign our Petition at Change.org to let government officials know you won’t tolerate these monsters in your neighborhood anymore. It’s time to release the money and build up our city.Please join us,Mayor Richard Thomas