Residents near Harrisburg sinkhole receive no permanent relief yet from school district

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Harrisburg School District officials may not be providing any permanent relief yet for people who live near a sinkhole on South 14th Street, but they are giving them more time.

Some of the people who live on the street have not paid property taxes because of the condition of their homes, and are in danger of having their homes sold at a tax sale if the school district doesn't forgive their debt.

Maria Vargas-Graves, who lives on South 14th Street, said, "We're asking for those who have not paid already to be forgiven, as well as those who did pay to do a refund."

Officials with the Harrisburg school board said they need more information from the city and county before making a final decision.

The topic was not even on the school board agenda until Matthew Krupp with the school board pushed for it to be added.

Krupp said, "If the board is not going to provide some relief to those property owners I think that we need to send a signal so that they can make other arrangements."

The original meeting on May 15 was pushed back, and people who live on South 14th Street said this was their last chance to try to get the school board to budge before the June tax sales.

Vargas-Graves said, "The way I look at it, they're not looking to do anything about the situation because if they were it should've been on their agenda now. There should not have been a question about it."

Vargas-Graves said it's hard for people to relate to their situation.

She said, "The houses are unsafe. You've got cracks on the inside of the properties. You have hard times with your doors being able to close and what not. It's just a total disaster and until anybody come and lives on South 14th Street and see what we have experienced, they have no clue."

Board officials said only one house would be on the tax sale list in June because that property owner hasn't paid property taxes since 2013.

The rest would not go up for tax sale until September.

Krupp said, "The city found a way to do it, the county found a way to do it. We've had this issue since February and I think we should be able to find a way to do it as well."

City officials agreed to reimburse the residents who paid their property taxes on South 14th Street, but those residents said they have not received that payment yet.