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Failed Wilmington 'blight bill' comes to a vote, again

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media

Wilmington City Council will once again consider a proposal that aims to address the city’s housing stock.


The ordinance sponsored by Councilwoman Maria Cabrera is a version of the so-called “blight bill” that Mayor Mike Purzycki’s administration failed to get passed in his first term. 

It would shift the system of code enforcement for rental properties from a criminal to a civil process—which Cabrera and members of the Administration argue would speed enforcement up.

“Once the inspector goes out and does the code violation, we can’t force the landlord to fix it,” she said. “It’s an extended process. So what this does, changing it from criminal to civil, it shortens the time that we can hold those landlords accountable.”

“All of our other processes remain the same,” said Jeff Starkey, head of the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections. “Violations remain the same. Sending notices remains the same. Reinspections remain the same. And working with constituents--the most important thing— remains the same.”

The proposal does not address vacant properties — which Cabrera says she’ll try to address through future legislation.

It’s expected to come to a vote at Council’s meeting Thursday evening.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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