HomeNewsLetters to the Editor: March 19, 2014

Letters to the Editor: March 19, 2014

Slumlords in Philadelphia

If politicians truly cared about the health and safety of residents they would have created an elite investigations unit and publicly named a director to rein in the growing slumlord epidemic. If you’re currently a renter, there is no justice for you. Philly is home to the Wild West of renting and in this town, just about anything goes.

What is needed is a completely independent unit from Licenses & Inspections that has a mission of taking a proactive approach in reducing the number of slumlords that operate ‘property monopolies’ across the city. On a quarterly basis this “czar” would have a meeting and present their findings in a formal face-to-face discussion with the mayor and the Director of L & I. Once a year, during an open-access City Council meeting, the czar would testify about the substantiated slumlord findings.

I have learned the hard way that a thick coat of fresh paint can hide several health and safety issues. Sometimes it can take several months after you have moved in an apartment for the cracks/leaks or black mold to re-surface through the paint meanwhile you are stuck in an ironclad lease for several more months. Many renters also have to cope with severely outdated electrical wiring that, in most instances, have too much electric running on one line.

When most renters report a dangerous living condition issue that has been ignored by their slumlord, they end up getting caught in the web of the city’s government bureaucracy. You call the 311 service hotline and nine-out-of-ten-times they tell you it will take at least 30 days for an L & I investigator to even respond.

On Dec. 4, I sent a certified letter to Councilwoman Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez, the Chair of the Committee that oversees Licenses & Inspections, detailing my slumlord experiences over the years while living in Philadelphia. I included several pictures and my contact information in the letter but the only response back I got from her office was a note that my letter was received.

In the aftermath of a 22-year-old plummeting to his death from a fire escape/balcony collapse in Rittenhouse Square, Rebecca Swanson, spokeswoman for the Dept. of L & I, said, “The city’s property maintenance code is meant to serve as a manual informing property owners of their responsibilities.”

Slumlords know the rules and right from wrong, but they choose to continually put tenants’ health and safety in harm’s way because city agents don’t enforce the laws that are already on the books.

Jason Kaye

Rhawnhurst

Cleaning up Tacony

I went for a walk on Sunday morning on Knorr Street. I was very upset and angry about all the trash in the street and on the sidewalks. It was filthy!

Many people try to keep their houses and fronts looking nice, and then the dirty slobs walk by and throw their trash wherever. It looks terrible, and sends the wrong message to anyone thinking of buying here. Until this problem, and the endless barking dogs and blaring car radios, are resolved it’s not going to matter about other improvements we make. And there are many!

This neighborhood has so much going for it. It’s one of the last great neighborhoods in the city that is worth preserving. All it takes is a little pride and effort from the people who live here. Most people do care about their quality of life here and are buying their homes or already own the homes they live in. It is the non-caring, non-resident property owners here, who are not careful about whom they let live in their rentals. It is a very real problem to not care about the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

Joan Dahlberg

Tacony

Thanks for cartoon

Thank you for the appropriate cartoon in the March 5 issue about Russian intervention in Ukraine. Russian imperialism reasserts itself periodically. Just think back to Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Afghanistan in 1979, Georgia in 2008.

Incidentally, in 1994, per the Budapest Memorandum, the United States, United Kingdom and Russia agreed to guarantee the security and territorial integrity of Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons, which constituted the world’s third-mightiest nuclear arsenal. Ukraine kept its end of the bargain, but are the U.S. and UK willing to honor that Memorandum now? Maybe “Nukes for Ukes” (in National Review) was not such a bad thing after all.

Leo Iwaskiw

Somerton

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