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Over 9,300 Housing and Nuisance Violations Cited By Worcester Inspectors

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

 

The Housing and Health Inspections division of Worcester's Department of Inspectional Services (DIS) cited or identified 9,388 violations last year, according to a report submitted to the City Manager and Council.

The biggest culprits were owner's responsibility to maintain structural elements, which racked up 2,740 violations, owner's installation and maintenance responsibilities, which racked up 1,170 violations, and 1,392 violations of the nuisance ordinance regarding the accumulation of trash, rubbish or debris.

"This work touches nearly every resident, business and vistor to the City in some way to ensure public safety, improved quality of life, and consumer protection," City Manager Michael O'Brien said of the DIS report.

The Department's two divisions--Housing and Health Inspections and Building and Zoning--conducted over 35,000 inspections last year with a combined staff of 55 people.

"When I look back at 2012 and the body of work that was accomplished, I am inspired by the hard work and dedication of the women and men of this organization," said John Kelly, commissioner of the DIS, in the report.

According to Kelly, the Housing Division's efforts center around housing and nuisance inspections conducted both proactively in nuisance or neighborhood sweeps and through complaints filed with the City's Customer Service Center.

All told, the Housing Division conducted 8,926 initial housing/nuisance inspections in 2012.

"If violations are identified during an inspection, at least one follow-up inspection is made to ensure compliance with all violation orders that were issued."

But in many cases multiple orders are given with varying expiration dates, Kelly said. The sanitary code's guidelines run anywhere from 24-hour orders to 30-day orders.

"Given this reality, most properties require multiple re-inspections to ensure compliance."

Noncompliant property owners resulted in 900 housing court cases in 2012. Kelly said the Law Department successfully had more than 99 percent of cases adjudicated in the City's favor during 2012.

A total of 79 properties were either trash-strewn or overgrown with no responsible party coming forward to clean up and so were taken care of under the city's "clean and lien" procedure.

"This is done after all other efforts to gain compliance have been exhausted," said Kelly. "Clean and liens are performed per a contact that is bid annually to conduct board-ups and clean-ups and costs are placed as a lien against the property."

Forty-four properties were subject to board-ups in 2012.

Seven neighborhood sweeps were conducted resulting in the inspection of 1,832 properties, which revealed 1,119 violations.

"As has been the historical trend, approximately 70 percent of the violations are corrected within 30 days, 90 percent within 60 days and the remaining 10 percent result in court action with 99 percent of violations corrected in 90 days with the remaining 1 percent being resolved through continued court action," Kelly said.

"During 2012, 13 units were put into receivership and an additional 26 units of housing repaired and tenancies stabilized by the owner taking corrective action to resolve violations in order to prevent the appointment of a receiver. Since the programs inception, 227 housing units have been stabilized and tenancies maintained either through owner making repairs when faced with the prospect of the appointment of a receiver or the actual appointment of a receiver."

According to O'Brien, Kelly is working with the City's Law Department to makes changes to the city's Vacant and Abandoned Building Ordinance in order to further define foreclosure and foreclosed properties. 

 

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