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Altoona To Fight Blight By Supporting Homeowners And Going After Violators

A blighted home sits on 12th Avenue in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Min Xian
A blighted home sits on 12th Avenue in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Altoona’s Blight Task Force released a plan Wednesday to address the city’s rundown property problem. The plan looked at the extent of blight in Altoona and recommended next steps.

Over the past five months, the task force surveyed the city's housing conditions. They found more than half of about 9,000 parcels of land surveyed are in need of minor repairs, such as a new coat of paint. Meanwhile, nearly 400 parcels require major repairs and even demolition.

The strategic plan recommended a handful of priorities, including expanding home repair and rental rehabilitation assistance and pursuing state grants. The plan also suggested a "Hall of Shame," publicizing those who repeatedly violate property codes.

“It’s kind of like a carrot and stick approach," said Winnie Branton, a consultant affiliated with Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, “where you have the weapon you can use when somebody’s the bad actor and you want to get them to comply, versus trying to help people who need a little bit of assistance keeping their properties up."

Moving on, the task force will shift into an action team to implement the plan. One of the first steps is to establish a land bank.

Altoona Mayor Matt Pacifico said addressing blight is another step toward rebuilding the city, riding on the momentum of the city's successful departure from Act 47 last September. 

Min Xian reported at WPSU from 2016-2022.
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