Property Renewal Program Helps Residents Who Cannot Afford to Bring Homes Up to Code
By Susan Schrock
Posted on October 05, 2016, October 05, 2016

Bring Homes Up to Code

An Arlington resident who had been out of work the past four years found that she couldn't keep up with the maintenance and repair needs at her aging Park Row Drive home.

A storm had blown down trees and large limbs throughout her three-quarter acre yard, which was waist high in brush and weeds. An open trench in her back yard collected raw sewage flowing from a broken sewer line.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said she knew her property was in bad shape but she couldn't afford the thousands of dollars in repairs and clean up.

That's when the City of Arlington's Code Compliance Services stepped in to make a difference. Earlier this summer, the woman became the first property owner to receive assistance through the new Arlington Property Renewal Program. Tapping the Arlington Building Rehabilitation Fund, the City spent about $16,000 to cut down and haul away the fallen trees and limbs, mow the high grass, repair the broken sewer line and bring the property back up to code.

"I'm very lucky," the woman said. "It wasn't that I was unwilling to comply with code enforcement. It was that I was unable to. There would have been no way I ever could have afforded that."

The City launched the Property Renewal Program last year in an effort to positively impact property values and engage, connect and protect Arlington residents by providing services that promote safe and strong neighborhoods. The program, which aligns with the City Council priority to Champion Great Neighborhoods, provides financial assistance to single-family property owners who meet federal poverty guidelines and cannot afford to bring their property into compliance.

"We wanted for Code Compliance Services to do more than just take on that enforcement role when it comes to keeping the community in good shape. We wanted to be able to work with people and help them when they didn't have the finances available to do that themselves," said Steve Allen, North District Supervisor for Code Compliance Services.

Each time a property owner pays a civil citation for a code violation in Arlington, a $25 fee goes into the Arlington Building Rehabilitation Fund. This fund in turn helps assist eligible property owners bring their property up to code through the Property Renewal Program.

Common violations include but are not limited to roof damage, chipped or peeling exterior paint, damaged doors and windows, hazardous wiring and defective air conditioning equipment.

"This program helps in multiple ways. It keeps the neighborhoods looking good. For the people who live here, it creates a great environment to raise their kids and families," Allen said. "On top of that, when we have people who are new and are looking for a place to live, they see nice neighborhoods that are well-kept and maintained and it just adds to their desire to make Arlington their home."

Seeing the limbs cleared away and her large lawn once again trimmed and tidy, the Park Row Drive resident said she couldn't thank the City enough for its assistance through the Arlington Property Renewal Program.

"I know there are people out there who would really benefit from and appreciate this program. I know I do," the woman said. "It's allowing me to keep my house."

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