Pre-Halloween tradition being used as symbol against 'zombie properties'

Oct 25, 2015

Assemblyman Michael Kearns is using a pre-Halloween children’s tradition to make a statement to some adults in the banking industry.

For 11 weeks, Kearns has been posting signs on vacant and foreclosed properties as part of a “shame campaign.” He’s been urging banks to take care of the properties known as “zombie properties.”

On this year’s “Beggars’ Night” – the night before Halloween – Kearns will be joined by elected officials throughout Erie County to make a larger statement.

From left to right: Old First Ward community development coordinator Matthew Fisher, Michael Murphy of Valley Community Center, State Assemblyman Michael Kearns, Buffalo Councilmember David Franczyk, housing activist Art Robinson post a sign on a "zombie property" as part of the "shame campaign."
Credit Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

“We’re putting up 150 signs on Beggars’ Night because we’re sick of begging the banks for their support in our communities,” said Kearns. “And we’ll have people going out all day next Friday putting up those signs.”

The amplification of the campaign comes at a time when Kearns may be getting added traction within the City of Buffalo. He said Niagara District Common Council Member David Rivera is showing support for the creation of an official registry of vacant properties within the city.

“So we would know which properties are vacant because of these incomplete foreclosures and we would be able to maintain these ‘zombie properties,’” explained Kearns. “So I know the council member is working on that and the council is going to be filing a resolution in support of the bank ‘shame campaign.’”

As part of the campaign, Kearns said he is trying to educate members of the public that they do not have to leave their homes immediately if they are foreclosed upon. In addition, he will be holding a two-day summit on November 19th and 20th to dissect the problems of “zombie properties.”