Vote No on "Blight Bill"
"Blight Bill" Ordinance 19-026
Proposed Ordinance 19-026 would make many changes to the way the housing code is enforced in the City of Wilmington. Download the proposed ordinance here.
· Increases fines, fees and penalties on owners of rental and vacant properties,
· Eliminates neutral third-party oversight before code fines can be imposed on rentals and vacants,
· Eliminates tenant protections like rent withholding, and
· Increases annual fines on vacant residential properties up to $18,000+ a year.
What Would the Blight Bill Mean for Me?
I Am A Renter - Earlier versions of the Blight Bill included code violation fines for renters and fines for renters for refusing to let a code inspector into your house, but resident organizing resulted in removal of these provisions. For details, see the Renter's Guide to the Blight Bill.
I Am a Homeowner- Earlier versions of the Blight Bill included code violation fines for homeowners without court oversight and would have allowed the City to add code violation fines to a homeowner's tax bill, but resident organizing resulted in the removal of these provisions. Proposed Ordinance 19-026 would keep homeowners under the existing system of code enforcement, which guarantees neutral third-party oversight by the court. In addition, for homeowners only, the City cannot add code violations to your tax bill. For details, see the Homeowner's Guide to the Blight Bill.
I am A Landlord – Proposed Ordinance 19- 026 would give L&I power to give landlords fines of $250 a week for any uncorrected code violation. Fines don't need to be approved by the courts before becoming first priority liens on your property. The City can foreclose on the liens to collect the fines. For details, see the Landlord's Guide to the Blight Bill.
I Own a Vacant Property- Proposed 19-026 would increase the schedule of fines on vacant properties, up to $18,000+ annual fines for a property that is vacant more than 8 years. For details, see the Vacant Property Owner's Guide to the Blight Bill.
Fines are Not the Answer
Experts nation-wide, including resources like the Center for Community Progress, Vacant Property Research Network, and Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, agree that fines and penalties do little to spark investment in neighborhoods with low property values, which is where most of Wilmington’s vacant and rental properties are located. Instead or bringing about compliance, aggressive fines and fees can lead to more evictions, vacancy and neighborhood deterioration when owners choose to abandon their properties instead of making repairs and/or paying fines.
Support the Healthy Communities Subcommittee
There are good alternatives to the "Blight Bill" that will be more effective! The Healthy Community Subcommittee (launched by Wilmington City Council’s Community Development and Urban Planning Committee) is engaging homeowners, renters, landlords, housing advocates and community-based organizations in creating a comprehensive set of community development and neighborhood revitalization policies. This promising initiative is exactly the kind of approach we need to develop a balanced set of policies to strengthen neighborhoods that should include:
Restart Pre-Rental Inspections to ensure that every renter moves into an apartment that meets housing quality standards
Require that all vacants including city-owned, be kept clean, secure and water-tight
Create a well-funded and well-publicized Homeowner Repair Grant Program to help low-income homeowners with code violations and emergency repairs.
For more details, see the Action Plan for Safe and Healthy Homes and Neighborhoods.
Ask Council to Vote No on the "Blight Bill" and work with the broader community through the Healthy Communities Subcommittee to create a balanced set of policies that will strengthen Wilmington's neighborhoods. Find City Council contact information here.