Ending Blight in Frankford and Philadelphia and Pennsylvania

There is a bill in the Pennsylvania Senate that would make it easier to penalize property owners for their neglect of their properties.  It would allow local municipalities to attach other of the owner’s property to pay for clean up or demolitions or whatever needs fixing.  Right now only the property with the problem can be attached.  That would put some of the slumlords in the city in a tight spot.

As a sweeping blight-fighting bill moves slowly through the state Legislature, it has come under increasing fire from landlords and mortgage lenders.

Senate Bill 900 cleared the state Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this week, but some proponents worry the bill may be watered down.

“If there is no asset attachment and no permit denials in the bill, you might as well not even pass it. There’s nothing there,” Jeri Stumpf, a member of the statewide Blight Task Force who authored parts of the bill, said this week. “The asset attachment is critical. It affects everybody’s lives and everybody’s pocketbooks.”

Supporters of the measure argue blight has become an increasing problem across the state, with dilapidated buildings posing dangers to the community and driving down property values for neighbors.

Read the entire story here in the Pottsville republicanherald.com

  • If there is one thing Pennsylvanians agree on it is the cancerous impact of slum properties on our communities. Blight not only creates eye-sores, but brings down property values for responsible owners nearby and creates attractive nuisances where drugs can be sold, fires get started, children get hurt and the whole community suffers.

    Kudos to Senator Argall for taking on this problem and trying to give us new tools to deal with this problem. The Pennsylvania Residential Owners Association (PROA), has nothing to fear from this bill, nor do the many responsible rental owners who proudly and diligently maintain the properties they own and manage. The target of the bill is those few bad apples who give good landlords a bad name, those who allow their properties to fall into disrepair over a long period of time and make no effort to fix them up.

    Right now, owners can let a property become blighted and not make the repairs even when they have the money needed to fix it up. With the “asset attachment” provision in this bill, municipalities will be able to go after those few bad actors and make them pay instead of passing the burden to responsible owners and tax payers who are playing by the rules. It is hard to argue with that.

    We have all seen blight spread. Sometimes communities know full well that a prospective new owner has other property code violations, but they can’t stop him or her from spreading their poor property management to other parts of town like Typhoid Mary. Permit denial simply gives local communities the ability to stop blight from spreading until the owner fixes up what they already have.

    This bill has been a long time coming. It has been vetted by constitutional lawyers, property rights proponents and tireless advocates like Jeri Stumpf who have fought for years to find the delicate balance between protecting the rights of responsible owners while holding the deadbeats accountable. In fact, responsible owners will benefit from this legislation as their property values go up as blight is eliminated from the areas where they live and work.

    The time for the Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act is here. We owe Senator Argall a debt of gratitude for taking on this tough battle and giving responsible property owners and tax payers a few more tools to reclaim our communities.
    Liz Hersh, executive director, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania liz@housingalliancepa.org

  • crazymommy

    If this passes we will need more fire fighters and arson investigators hired to cover all the “lightning strikes.”