A proposal on housing code compliance policy, sent to the City by the Group of Four, or G4, which is comprised of the Greensboro Housing Coalition, the Human Relations Commission, Greensboro Neighborhood Congress, and the Tenants Association of Greensboro.
Notes and releases after the jump.
I am writing to inform you of the GNC’s progress in advancing a replacement ordinance for RUCO, our city’s former proactive rental dwelling safety inspection program, which the GNC was integral in creating. A new ordinance was needed in order to comply with a change in state law.
The GNC Issues and Bylaws committee has complied with the membership’s instruction to work toward strengthening and improving Greensboro’s Minimum Housing Code as it relates to rental housing. The I&B committee and the Executive committee selected Mike Pendergraft to represent the GNC on the City’s Post-RUCO committee, which was made up of rental business representatives and community organization representatives. Mike, along with the representatives of like-minded organizations, have formed a coalition to advance our recommendations for a replacement ordinance. Joining Mike in this effort are Beth McKee-Huger of the Greensboro Housing Coalition, Paul Ksieniewicz of the the Human Relations Commission, and Audrey Berlowitz of the Tenant Association of Greensboro. I have copied a statement and attachments from that coalition (GNC plus GHC, HRC, and TAG) to the City planning department head, Sue Schwartz, for the City Council’s consideration. Also copied is a summary of key points in the proposal.
I’d like to thank Mike Pendergraft, the Issues and Bylaws Committee, and the Executive Committee for diligently working to produce a practical ordinance proposal that will help to keep rental homes safe in Greensboro, and our housing stock and neighborhoods in good repair.
Susan Taaffe, West Co-chair
An explanation of the contents:
The proposal includes:
· LOE Office to maintain list of rental units (using broad set of sources based on list of 35,000 RUCO certificates issued) - no registration required.
· Bases for inspection of Rental Dwelling Unit:
§ Complaint of substandard conditions
§ Requested inspection
§ Actual knowledge of unsafe condition
§ Observed violations
§ Owners with more than two uncorrected verified violations within 12 months
§ Selected for administrative warrant inspection as permitted in the Administrative Warrant Statute
§ Owner or Tenant request.
· Inspector may grant up to 90 days to repair; unless repaired the violations become “uncorrected verified violations.” Director of PCD may grant extra time in extraordinary or catastrophic circumstances.
· If violations not found on initial inspection or violations are corrected by the first re-inspection there is no penalty, but if any violations remain uncorrected a penalty is levied which increases with subsequent failure to correct.Significant penalties which exist under Section 42 are not changed
· Remedying violations is owner's responsibility although penalties assessed against owner for Tenant caused violations are not owner’s responsibility
· Civil Penalties may be significant if Violations not remedied and Penalties may begin on date violation becomes an “uncorrected verified violation.”
· A cap for penalties is proposed: the lesser of $50,000 or 50% of the tax value.
· When a case goes to Minimum Housing Standard Commission, this proposal establishes the standard for extensions of time which is set out in the city charter Sec. 5.74(d), “…practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in the way of carrying out the strict letter of the housing code,”
The coalition recommended implementing the recommendations contained in the Code Compliance Benchmark Study in order to have an effective minimum housing program.
Sue,With the goal of effective housing code compliance policy, four groups have drafted the attached proposal: Greensboro Housing Coalition, Human Relations Commission, Greensboro Neighborhood Congress, and Tenants Association of Greensboro (the Group of Four, G4). I am authorized to write for all that we do not consent to the draft ordinance resulting from the Post RUCO stakeholder group; this objection was stated by GNC at the November 29 meeting. In its place, we urge the city council to adopt the attached proposed changes to Chapter 11 of the Municipal Code that will increase compliance with minimum housing safety standards.Our groups, individually and collectively, represent the interests of our entire community. These perspectives are much broader than the short-term and financial interests of an industry thats seeks to avoid regulation.1. The Tenants' Association of Greensboro (TAG) is a newly forming political group runby and for tenants in Greensboro. It aims to raise the consciousness of renters about their rights and responsibilities; at TAG meetings renters gather together so that they can work together in order to affect landlord-tenant political policy at both the city and state level. As council members stated October 2, we need the voices of those most affected.2. The Greensboro Neighborhood Congress (GNC), a city-wide alliance of neighborhoods, seeks to improve the quality of life within the City of Greensboro by addressing issues of city-wide importance and by empowering neighborhoods to resolve neighborhood-specific concerns, including housing conditions, public safety, and property values.3. The mission of the Human Relations Commission is to improve the quality of life for Greensboro residents by encouraging fair treatment and promoting mutual understanding and respect among all people. The Commission helps the city affirmatively further fair housing.4. Greensboro Housing Coalition advocates for safe and affordable housing. As such, we urge homeowners, tenants, and rental owners to fulfill their responsibilities and we strongly support public policy that promotes maintenance of housing in safe and healthy condition.Attached are the following documents:· Summary· Proposal· Commentary· Graphic illustrating major points (for educating the public about this policy proposal)Thank you.Beth McKee-HugerPaul KsieniewiczMichael PendergraftAudrey Berlowitz