The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 5, 2014

Readers' Forum 5-5 | Zombie homes a growing problem

JOHNSTOWN — I recently watched a program on CNBC regarding zombie homes (where owners have vacated the house because its value was below the mortgage owed) littering every state. CNBC said that roughly one out of five homes are now sitting empty and the number is growing, often due to job loss, stressed owners and the flood of homes on the market.

We often blame our city for the problem. However, the banks, in my opinion, are more at fault. Banks don’t want to totally foreclose on a property and take possession of a low-value home because  they can never recoup what is owed from the owners, if they are ever found.

The vacant homes are not maintained, so they fall into disrepair, attract squatters or criminals and drag down the value of nearby homes.

Zombie homes zap tax dollars.

Too many rental properties are on the market and public home ownership is falling. We need to push banks to share in upkeep on these homes, not let them fall into disrepair.

What is needed is a cleanup day of all empty, rotting properties. And volunteers could be enlisted to help. Regardless of who owns the zombie homes in Johns-town, it’s our city. We can make this city shine again by working together.

Lindy Yutzy

Johnstown

Would rather see border tightened

I disagree with a lot of President Obama’s thinking. However, I believe he is correct in attempting to utilize diplomatic efforts regarding Syria and the Ukraine rather than getting the U.S. involved in a long and costly war.

He has learned the lessons of the Vietnam War and the phony Iraq conflict.

Many of those who criticize his foreign policy never served one day in the military. If these individuals are truly serious about these causes, they should go overseas to assist the Syrian rebels and the Ukraine government. This includes those members of Congress who only use words but lack a backbone when it comes to fighting.

I hope our Congress would seriously consider securing our southern border before proceeding to police the world.

Mr. President, thank you for your consideration of our troops and their families.

Robert Vetock

Johnstown

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