Rep. Maloney Proposes Bill to Turn ‘Zombie’ Homes Into Housing for Homeless Veterans

Real Estate In-Depth | July 2017

NEWBURGH—U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) joined local leaders on July 6th in front of one of the abandoned properties in the City of Newburgh to announce legislation to help homeless veterans and renovate “zombie” or abandoned properties.

The “Housing Our Heroes Act” would create a pilot program within the Department of Veterans Affairs, which would provide federal investments to Veterans Service Organizations to acquire and update blighted properties to provide housing for homeless veterans.

“We’ve got all these zombie properties dragging down home values and housing criminal activities, and we’ve got veterans living on the streets or struggling to buy a home—it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we can kill two birds with one stone here,” said Rep. Maloney. “This legislation would help us fulfill our promise to our veterans and help redevelop blighted areas of our communities.”

“This really is a no-brainer—anything I can do to help make this happen I will do it— this legislation will change lives not only in this district—but across the country,” said Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus. “Transforming zombie homes into housing for homeless veterans is an important initiative that we can all agree on.”

“This is a great idea—it’s a hand-in-glove approach to the problem of veterans’ homelessness and abandoned properties,” said New York State Assemblyman Frank Skartados. “This legislation will be a tremendous asset to communities like the City of Newburgh.”

“Representative Maloney is a longstanding champion for veterans—he doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk,” said Michele McKeon, COO of RECAP. “For so many veterans, homeownership is a dream that has been out of reach, and this bill will remove the blight from our communities while helping our veterans achieve that dream.”

The Housing Our Heroes Act would create a three-year $25-million pilot program within the VA to provide grants to VSOs and other non-governmental organizations to acquire and update blighted properties for the purpose of housing homeless veterans. The program would help put previously homeless veterans on the path to homeownership by enabling them to start repaying the VSO after a year of occupancy.

Additionally, the program would improve neighborhoods by restoring abandoned properties, increasing property values, and encouraging growth. Despite recent progress, nearly 40,000 veterans remain homeless across the country with approximately 1,300 of those residing in New York State.