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Klein’s bank cleanup program helps with foreclosed properties

Bronx Times

Uncared-for foreclosed properties can be a blight on the community.

Anthony Salimbene and his wife Eileen found out the hard way when overgrowth from the backyard at a foreclosed property at 224 Revere Avenue next to their home turned their back yard and deck uninhabitable in the summer time.

Bugs, critters, and standing water made their lives miserable, said Eileen Salimbene.

It took a two-man crew armed with machetes three days to clear the overgrowth next door, finally finishing on Monday, July 9.

The trash filled about 30 extra-large garbage bags, while bundles of overgrown tree branches and limbs were stacked high across the property’s driveway.

The cleanup was thanks to Senator Jeff Klein’s office, which reached out to the bank owning the foreclosed property, the U.S. Bank National Association. Klein has now relaunched his Neighborhood Preservation Initiative to help homeowners facing similar problems with foreclosed homes on their block that aren’t maintained by the banks that took them over.

“Keeping the Bronx clean and safe is something that I’ve always made a top priority,” said Klein. “When I heard about how badly this property had been neglected, I knew that something had to be done. I immediately alerted the bank and reminded them that, just like any other property owner, they have a legal duty to maintain the homes they own.”

Klein said the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative will “send cleaning crews across the Bronx, bringing neglected properties back from the brink of disrepair and ensuring that banks meet their legal obligations to the community.”

Klein first launched his initiative in 2010 and helped clean up about 14 properties.

He passed legislation in 2009 requiring banks to maintain properties they own.

Since the enactment of that legislation, banks have finally been held to the same standards as ordinary homeowners, according to Klein’s office.

The Revere Avenue property, vacant since 2010, had also attracted a small menagerie of two possums, a raccoon, and a skunk, said Eileen Salimbene. Standing water in the backyard was posing a risk of West Nile Virus, and the city Department of Health had been notified, she said - “It was nature’s wild kingdom in that backyard!”

“Thanks to Senator Klein, I can finally go into my backyard again,” said Anthony Salimbene. “To his credit, as soon as he heard about the problem, he sprang into action and made sure that the job got done.”

An online request form for cleanup as part of the program can be found on Senator Klein’s senate home page at www.nysenate.gov/senator/jeffrey-d-klein.

Residents can also report neglect issues by calling Klein’s office hotline at (800) 718-2039.

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