Cichon: “There is No Easy Fix for WNY’s Abandoned Home Crisis”

By Steve Cichon for Erie County Clerk

Neighborhoods all over Western New York are suffering from the effects of abandoned or poorly maintained properties. Good people who work hard to maintain their homes and build their communities are too often left with an eyesore and a health hazard that seems beyond their reach to fix.

It’s an issue my neighborhood has dealt with and like many Western New Yorkers, we know firsthand that the path to a resolution is never straight forward.

Promising to solve this problem with lawn signs and press conferences hasn’t worked, which is why, when I announced my candidacy in April, I made the creation of a “zombie homes” task-force the centerpiece of my campaign for clerk.

Modeled on the successful approach in Monroe County, I want to bring banks, lawyers and elected officials together with affected neighbors. We can begin to identify abandoned properties, pinpoint where there are lapses in the processes and laws and then, most importantly—create mechanisms to make sure that the situations that lead to abandoned and zombie homes aren’t allowed to progress to that point in the future.

While it doesn’t make for a quick slogan for another political campaign, the truth is that this is a difficult problem that doesn’t have one single solution. Every property, every municipality, every bank, every situation is different.

Instead of engaging in political bluster and finger pointing, as your Erie County Clerk, I will get to work and it’s a lot of work, and it’s not an idea that fits on a bumper sticker, but bumper sticker slogans don’t fix problems. As your Erie County Clerk, it’s my pledge to work on problems facing our community through hard work and relationship building—not with public shaming and the first politically expedient idea to pop up.

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