The Douglas H. Palmer administration unveiled a new approach to the city’s housing inspections programs this past week, in a plan that the administration says will improve the capital city’s housing woes.
The plan will realign how the city is divided into geographic inspections areas and allow the city to get more inspectors into so-called “hotspots” of infractions and code violations.
While the overhaul may be a step in the right direction, it still leaves the most serious chink in the city’s housing code armor exposed: frequency of inspections.
City code as it is currently written only provides for inspections every five years in a system that allows absentee landlords to juice money out of a property without reinvesting profit into the upkeep of the housing, creating slums and diving property values.
The City Council needs to use its so-called great working relationship with the administration to develop a plan to increase the numbers of inspections.
At the last meeting Mayor Palmer said the city couldn’t afford to hire any more inspectors, faced with an $8 million shortfall in state funds provided for the programs.
Perhaps the city could cut ties with a redundant legal position frequently seen in City Council chambers, since the man doesn’t yield very many legal opinions to the City Council anyway.
The city could then hire two full-time inspections positions, or several part-time staffers with this attorney’s $95,000 salary.
If City Council did its job and passed legislation instead of simply paying bills and paying the administration lip service, perhaps more of the city’s great housing stock would be saved from the reach of the urban blight creeping around the city.
Malfunctioning governing bodies, they’ll get you every time.