Dirty house in York criticized on social media to be cleaned up

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YORK, Pa. - A dirty house that was publicized on social media will be cleaned up by the property owner and volunteers.

Photos of the home on the corner of South Lee Street and Mason Avenue were shared publicly on the Facebook "Fixing York PA" page and drew criticism from the public, before city officials stepped in to work out a clean-up agreement with the landlord.

Barbara Hansford, whose sister lives next door, posted the photos online after months of frustration.

"I just see the pile growing, and there's mice and bugs and everything else going into my sister's house and that's not cool," she said.

Hansford says her family has had to call the exterminator multiple times to handle the rodents and insects, but with nothing being done about the garbage next-door, the pests kept returning.

"I think it's awful the way the landlords, you know, if they want to collect $700 a month for rent and stuff like that, at least make the places livable for people," Hansford said.

Neighbors say the piles of trash came from the former tenants, who were evicted months ago. The current residents are people who were placed there after being displaced by a fire on Maple Street in October, they said.

After the Facebook post, City Council President Michael Helfrich stepped in to help.

He contacted Joseph Mueller, the property owner, and came to an agreement with him to identify a company to complete the clean-up as long as Mueller paid for it.

Mueller had been fined once by the city for the trash piles in the backyard, and claimed his maintenance staff told him the trash piles had been cleaned up, Helfrich said.

"The city seemed to be doing its process of sending out the finest and warnings and things like that, but unfortunately, that doesn't get the property cleaned up," Helfrich said. "So we have a system where we fine the landlord, but that doesn't get immediate action."

Helfrich says although this instance is on its way to being fixed, it is a symptom of a bigger problem.

"We have to find a way to not only enforce laws, but to actually fix the problem," Helfrich said. "You can send somebody fines, but the people around them are still suffering."

The clean-up of the property is expected to be complete sometime next week.