Decision on row homes puts safety first

Isn’t it always better to err on the side of safety?

We think that’s just what Renovo Borough officials are doing when it comes to the row homes on 14th Street that were recently declared uninhabitable.

There are 16 homes in the block-long building, some owner-occupied, some rented and some vacant with owners who don’t live locally.

Some units have fire damage and are not inhabitable.

No, we are not in the shoes of those who are impacted by the order to vacate.

We don’t pretend to know the hardship it will create.

But we do know that Clinton County government is working to assist the residents and borough through the Clinton County Housing Coalition via a Rapid Re-Housing Program that can provide grant funding for relocation.

Officials’ quick response to the situation and offer of help is heartening.

As reported, a perfect storm of events led to the decision to post the properties because of years of neglect that has created what officials believe are serious unsafe conditions.

According to the borough, six of the houses are in a repository sale with two of those having fire damage, while a total of five of the 16 units have some fire or other damage.

Renovo Police Officer Victor Foley, at a recent public meeting, emphasized that protecting the health and safety of residents led to the decision.

“You can’t tear down house 1, 2 and 5 and leave houses 3, 4 and 6 there,” he said, acknowledging that property owners do have an option to fight the decision.

A big disconnect between council and the property owners is about repairs that may or may not have been made.

If residents have made repairs to reverse any unsafe conditions, they need to provide proof … properly secured permits.

That’s their best defense.

Attacking the codes inspector on social media and elsewhere for his decision ignores the reality of the residents’ hazardous housing situation and is based on false conspiracy theories.

Deciding that the homes are uninhabitable is not done lightly and we trust the collective wisdom of borough officials.

Local governments are delegated authority to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of their residents.

Look, we don’t like it when anyone loses their home and neither does council.

But you cannot replace lives.


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