First let me say that I think Amanda Lehmert is one of the most objective and usually accurate N&R reporters. However, we all make mistakes - as I think Amanda did in her front page article this morning about RUCO CLICKHERE. According to a report delivered by City staff at the RUCO Board meeting last Thursday, the cost of RUCO for this year will be $547,454 - NOT $980,000, so I'm trying to find out where Amanda got her number. I think staff gave a detailed budget to the Board that I didn't come away with in my packet. I'll be checking this out on Monday.
I will also say that RUCO has been wrought with administrative error since the beginning, primarily because of a very poor records keeping system. It's old and and it's cumbersome and it just doesn't work in some instances. However, despite all those hurdles, RUCO is accomplishing its purpose.
Second, the Inspections Dept. has reduced numbers of staff over the years since RUCO was put in place. They used to spend their time on the hoard of complaints - more than 2000 complaints in 2003 - down to 459 last year. Also, the number of properties they are now able to take to the minimum housing commission and actually get remedied has increased from 17 in 2003 to 105 this year. They used to spend their time chasing their tales trying to get the houses before the commission.
Third, much of the rental housing stock has been RUCO certified and we revised the ordinance some time ago so that a RUCO is for the life of the property unless there is a complaint. New rentals and those not yet inspected do, of course, have to be inspected. Plus, there is a sampling requirement of 2% of the rental stock as a sentinel effect program. Only 10% of those sampling inspections have violations. That's because they get plenty of notice that they are going to be inspected. The long notice is a good thing because after all, what we want to happen is that they fix their units. We are not out to have people fined. I think the "only 10%" is a good thing.
Finally, sub-standard units have decreased from 1,679 in 2003 to 705 last year.
This program is working in so many ways. We should not let it be undermined and we should fix the administrative problems.
I was appointed to the committee that is going to bring a recommendation to the RUCO board to take to Council. I will say that one thing I will push for is a change in the makeup of the RUCO board. It is currently almost all landlords with only one housing representative. Landlords need to be on that board, but so do more of us who know the rental housing stock in Greensboro, but do not profit from it.
Greensboro Neighborhood Congress