Vote No on "Blight Bill" and Yes to Neighborhood Revitalization

Coolspringhouses

Wilmington needs a new approach to revitalizing its neighborhoods, but the "Blight Bill" Ordinance 19-026 is the wrong policy for the right problem. Instead of the Blight Bill, Wilmington needs to pass the comprehensive set of neighborhood revitalization policies being developed by Wilmington City Council's Healthy Communities Subcommittee.

“Blight Bill” Ordinance 19-026 would increase fines, fees and fees and remove neutral third party oversight of L&I actions on rental and vacant properties and eliminate tenant protections like rent withholding.  This approach is not only likely to not be successful, it also risks harming the very people and neighborhoods that need the most help.

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.

Instead of relying on ineffective strategies based on fines and fees, policy experts across the country recommend a collaborative, data-driven approach that takes into account the goals of residents, market conditions of neighborhoods, and the capacity of community-based organizations to create and implement comprehensive policy solutions that will achieve lasting impact and broad-based revitalization. This is exactly the kind of approach that is being launched by Wilmington City Council’s Healthy Communities Subcommittee.

Don't pass “Blight Bill” Ordinance 19-026. Instead, let the Healthy Communities Subcommittee work with a broad group of local stakeholders and experts to develop a comprehensive set of policies for improving Wilmington's housing and promoting broad-based neighborhood revitalization. These policies should include pre-rental inspections, homeowner repair programs, and incentives for bringing vacant properties back into use.

Let’s not miss this opportunity to work together on designing and implementing innovative policies and programs for improving rental properties, reclaiming vacant and abandoned properties and revitalizing neighborhoods. Together, we can and we must build a strong future for Wilmington and all its residents.