Over 50 'zombie homes' plaguing and frustrating residents of Mount Vernon

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CeFaan Kim reports from Mount Vernon.

Eyewitness News has covered zombie homes before, and the phenomenon is no stranger to the town of Mount Vernon in Westchester County.

Some of the characteristics of these homes include ones with no roofs, crumbling walls, and frequently the target of squatters, vandals, and thieves.

A row of homes on South Terrace Avenue have been left in poor condition for the last year after being burned by a fire.

"It was like a biblical plague," said Mount Vernon resident John Fuller. "We had bugs. We had all, you know because everything had to go somewhere else. We had all kinds of bugs, overrun with rodents. Right now there's several families of raccoons living here."

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas says there are 54 zombie homes in the city that he wants to raze immediately.

"We have a troubling situation where burned out abandoned properties have been haunting neighborhoods, sucking the life out of them," Mayor Thomas said.

According to the mayor, the city has the money to demolish these properties and that the state has offered to pay to rebuild them.

The problem though is that the city council and the city comptroller won't sign off on the plan.

"Some of these structure have been languishing for decades at a time," Mayor Thomas said. "And the position of comptroller Walker is that it's not the city's responsibility to demolish these things. I believe it is."

Council members say that is not where they disagree, but the issue lies with the bidding process for demolition that is rife with conflicts of interest.

"These are his friends. These are his buddies. And they're doing this particular agreement which is illegal," Councilman Andre Wallace said.

"There's a tremendous lack of transparency on the mayor's part," Council President Roberta Apuzzo said.

The mayor denies these charges, but one thing is clear, this political conflict is costing the residents of the city.

"This is a middle class working block. This was not a, this was a decent block. Right now you can't tell that," a resident said.

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