Papenfuse’s fight to stop blight takes effect Monday

Starting Monday a new housing court will take over code violations related to blight in Harrisburg.

It’s to help, “get the ball rolling,” in areas of the city where abandoned and collapsed buildings have fallen and have not been taken care of.

Abandoned and collapsed buildings and a front porch view of trash is the scene that many Harrisburg neighborhoods wake up to every morning.

“It’s dangerous, kids can get hurt with that like that,” says Derry Street resident, Patrick S.

“It’s a fire hazard,” says Harrisburg resident, Eva Simmons. People who are affected by all of this are hopeful that the Mayor’s promise will change it. “

“It’s about the property owners getting the buildings fixed up for the children today,” says Eva Simmons.

Eva Simmons moved here from Philadelphia…hoping for a good home for her grandchildren.

But she says abandoned properties next to her building draw rats and are now used as dumping places.

“It makes it look so trashy, it makes the neighborhood look bad and for anyone who wants to buy property they will feel negative about the area,” says Simmons.

So far this year, the city has issued 67 citations related to blight.

There were close to 500 in 2012.

The new program, known as “The Housing Court” is meant to help streamline the process of handling these cases.

Two District judges will hear cases dealing with all non-traffic code violations, including ones dealing with trash.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse says outstanding violations and fines total around a million dollars.

“And, all of that time savings is going to allow them to be doing more inspections, issuing more citations and getting more done,” says Mayor Eric Papenfuse.

The concept is based on a program in Pittsburgh.

Mayor Papenfuse says he talked with mayors of York, Lancaster, and Lebanon who all expressed interest in seeing where the project goes.