After many years watching a long, repeating a cycle of derelict properties and their owners, like this, or this one, and this one, and well… some say this one (but I tend to regard them as a special case), I’ve decided that the only way to hit the pause button on this cycle is to throw a spotlight on it.
While I have been using message boards like PhillySpeaks and Fishtown.US to highlight some of the property shenanigans, this weekend went awry when a serious topic I had started in a series covering the disease of cronyism afflicting a low-income housing developer in Kensington and a plea to help get its finances audited in hopes to set them back on the right path, I found myself apologizing to a cat over a term I shouldn’t have used on Philebrity over a very grave and deplorable, deadly fire that leveled a city block in my own neighborhood.
It was pretty clear that to cover Philadelphia’s massive property tax delinquency problem and vacant properties from the benign to the ones that could kill you, to bungling and outright corruption within City agencies that are supposed to help fix these problems, I would need to host my own content. And that place is now Philadelinquency.
Some folks think it’s a little too raw to post details, like this:
To me though, this is what the great Hallwatch Fight was all about a decade ago.
Hallwatch.org, which has been dead for a few years, was an activist-built site to put BRT records online. The purpose of getting them online was to boost transparency (get more eyeballs looking at it), and to improve the delinquency crisis. The City eventually made Hallwatch obsolete when it launched the BRT/OPA site.
I’m sure the City was glad it did that, since Hallwatch.org also contained an oft-used feature where citizens could blast messages to all the fax machines in City Council–to great annoyance of staffers.
Thanks to Tim Wisniewski, I’ve incorporated his PhillyAddress tool on to my site. One thing PhillyAddress does that OPA doesn’t do is search by a person’s name. If you’re searching for the other properties owned or co-owned by a slumlord, the value is more precious than gold-pressed latinum. (There’s also a Google Maps version, here.)
What’s the point of all this, this blog? Well, sunshine is one thing, but my goal is to live long enough to see the City of Philadelphia correct its failures surrounding property issues to a large enough degree where this site becomes old and obsolete–where it’s hard to find an interesting deadbeat owner or nuisance property that makes you want to scratch the back of your eyeballs. In a Philadelphia where encountering a slumlord owning a nuisance is a rarity, not commonplace.
Since you, dear reader, live in the same city, and perhaps even the same neighborhood (Kensington), that I do; let’s help each other out. Do you got a problem property near you that you think warrants exposure? Can’t find out who the owner is? Maybe I can help.
Shoot me an email: philadelinquency [at] gmail.org
All e-mail submissions remain anonymous.