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First Coast Connect

The State Of Jacksonville's 'Zombie' Foreclosures

Alison Fitzgerald / Center for Public Integrity

According to a recent report, Jacksonville is one of the hardest-hit cities when it comes to "zombie homes" - abandoned properties stuck in foreclosure legal limbo. 

These houses are often uninhabitable because they’ve fallen into disrepair, and the owners don't want to invest in fixing them because they can face another foreclosure from the bank.

The investigative report from the Center for Public Integrity found that zombie foreclosures are especially a problem in the area's poorer neighborhoods. The homes are often also the target of anti-blight initiatives.

"By cherry-picking which foreclosures they complete and which they ignore, banks are saddling individual borrowers with a permanent, inescapable debt while helping to create slums in already struggling communities," the report said. "The vacant homes often attract drug dealers and squatters and bring down the value of surrounding properties."

WJCT's Melissa Ross spoke with Alison Fitzgerald, project manager with The Center for Public Integrity, Allison Albert, attorney with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, and Jacksonville City Councilwoman Denise Lee about the "zombie homes" and what can be done to solve the problem.

  You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.

First Coast Connect home foreclosuresblight
Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.