Audit faults city's effort to fight blight

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A new audit finds major problems with the City of Richmond's effort to fight blight.

The 47-page report does praise the city for renewed efforts to reduce blight, but it also blasts the city's code enforcement division for bad record keeping, a lack of accountability and for not watching vacant properties in the city more closely.

Boarded up windows, crumbling stairs, just some of the problems that can bruise a Richmond neighborhood. And according to the audit, the department in charge of monitoring blight has many shortcomings.

The report says 46 percent of files requested from community development could not be located. Some city owned properties and right of ways are not up to code. Code enforcers were not monitored. Only 10 percent of required field inspections and 60 percent of random checks on vacant properties were conducted.

According to city guidelines, vacant properties on the city's registry are supposed to be checked once every 45 days, but according to this audit, 40 percent of the properties the agency randomly selected were not monitored in a timely manner.

John Murden writes a popular blog called Church Hill People's News. In it he regularly points out blighted properties.

"We've been here six years and folks were getting shot every which way, but in the past three or four years it's been real quiet, just because we've got neighbors living in houses and it makes a huge difference," said Murden.

Murden says despite what the report says he still sees results on the ground. He's just hoping those behind the scenes at City Hall, can catch up.

"You want to see the folks in the office working as hard as the folks in the trucks on the road to get these cleaned up. To get these houses lived in and get some of these slum lords held accountable for what they are doing to the neighborhoods," he said.

The report does make several recommendations which the code enforcement staff has agreed to implement.

The city declined further comment on the audit.

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