Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Open Letter To Greensboro City Council on RUCO from Donna Newton and Greensboro Neighborhood Congress

The focus of the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress is the preservation and improvements of our neighborhoods in terms of quality of life, property values and safety. As we all know, sub-standard housing undermines surrounding property values - even one substandard property can undermine the property values of an entire neighborhood. Also, we know that sub-standard properties invite crime into our communities.

Other organizations that are partnering in support of the pro-active aspects of RUCO,such as the Greensboro Housing Coalition and the Human Relations Commission, are focused on the human rights issues of improving sub-standard rental properties, in that renters have a right to live in safe housing and that many of them won't complain about substandard housing out of fear of retaliation from their landlords.

Key information and talking points:
RUCO is a sucessful program

Since RUCO was implemented, known sub-standard housing in Greensboro has been reduced from 1679 units in 2003 to 705 in 2010.;

Since RUCO was implemented, complaints about sub-standard housing have been decreased 77%;

Since RUCO was implemented, inspections staff have been reduced by 22%.

Since RUCO was implemented, inspections staff have been more successful in getting deteriorated housing to the Minimum Housing Commission more quickly and the number to go has steadily increased from 17 in 2003 to 105 in 2010.

RUCO is reasonable

Once inspected and a certificate is issued, the RUCO is good for the life of the property unless there is a complaint on the property or violations are found during the sampling inspections and not repaired within the prescribed time frame.

The time frame in which a violation must be repaired is 45 days from the written notice of the violation and can be extended as long as in the judgment of the inspector, progress is being on the repairs.

The sampling inspection process applies only to a random 2% of rental properties.

Rental properties that have not yet been inspected that come on the rental market are required to pass inspection and be issued a RUCO before they can be rented.

Opponents of RUCO plan to propose an elimination of the pro-active portions of RUCO, and as they couch it: "target problem properties". Their proposal will in effect eliminate RUCO. We agree that problem properties should be targeted. However, the Housing Code already provides the means to address the obvious problem properties and the City staff have already done 100% exterior inspections at least once. Moreover, where the staff find indications of violations from the external inspections, they are pursuing internal inspections. However, staff will tell you that you can not know what violations may be present inside a residence solely from an external inspection. It is doubtful that you will see electrical problems from the exterior; or rotting floors, or problems with the heating or air conditioning, etc. The question is: do you want to wait until the problems are apparent in the exterior where they negatively impact your entire community? That's what the opponents of RUCO are proposing we do.

You can go to the City website CLICKHERE and email all Council members at one time at their City email. You can also link to the Council directory which provides their home addresses and phone numbers CLICKHERE

Moreover, you can write a letter to the editor at the News and Record at this link CLICKHERE

The Greensboro Housing Coalition also supports keeping RUCO in tact and they state the following reasons:

1. RUCO has achieved tremendous improvement in housing safety for problem properties, reducing substandard housing from 1679 units in 2003 to 705 in 2010.

2. Substandard housing conditions impact health; health care and disability costs for NC children hurt by unsafe housing conditions totaled $108,000,000 in 2007.

3. Proactive inspections prevent conditions from sliding below standard, beyond the focus on problem properties. Analogy: waiting for conditions to become big enough problems for people to complain (or inspectors to see from the street) is like waiting for restaurant kitchens to get so dirty that people see rats before the Health Dept sanitarian comes. Wouldn’t you rather have proactive inspections so that restaurants keep kitchens sanitary all the time and that rental properties stay at or above minimum standards?

The Neighborhood Congress and the Housing Coalition are, however, interested in improving the administration of the inspections programs and we have offered to assist City management and staff in identifying areas that need improvement and finding procedural and other solutions. However, such administrative improvements do not require that we remove the certification requirements within RUCO.

Three of the Congress participants who are willing to assist you with your questions about RUCO and/or drafting your comments include the following:

Laura Jackson ; Michael Pendergraft ; David Wharton .

Again, you can go to the City website CLICKHERE

You can also write a letter to the editor at the News and Record at this link: CLICKHERE

Thank you.


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