Did you know 85% of houses in Richmond were built before 1979? Each year the city invests $2 million into code enforcement… aka fighting blight. Did you know there are 1,400 vacant buildings in the city? I learned a lot today from the city’s latest audit. It’s an eye opener. According to the report the Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Division in the city has some major problems.
There’s no doubt blighted properties ugly up the neighborhood. But several recent studies suggest they do way more than that. It’s called the broken window theory. Studies show that blighted, vacant properties invite illegal activities. They invite crime. The audit as a very interesting diagram that shows high crime areas of the city versus high blighted property areas. You could almost overlap the two and get the same map.
Here are the salient findings from the report:
* PMCED has taken steps to reduce blight through property rehabilitation. However based on available data, auditors were unable to determine the total number of properties rehabilitated or the overall impact of these efforts on the resolution of code violations in Richmond.
* The auditors also found that certain City owned properties and City right of way areas were not in compliance with City code. PMCED must communicate code violations on City owned properties to the appropriate agencies.
* During the audit 46% of requested files could not be located. Some of the files may not have been maintained because inspectors have been instructed to destroy environmental files once abated.
* Auditors found that 40% of selected vacant properties were not monitored in a timely manner. It is important to monitor vacant and abandoned structures because they invite crime, cause community blight and present potential hazards.
The city declined to comment and said the audit speaks for itself. However, it is noted in the audit that several of the recommendations will be implemented.
PS.. I interviewed the writer of Church Hill People’s News for my story on the NBC12 homepage. Check it out!