A laudable effort

Published 1:51 pm Thursday, September 22, 2016

For several years, there’s been an effort in Washington’s historic district to prevent older houses from deteriorating to the point they cannot be salvaged. That effort’s goal is to keep historically significant structures intact so they help tell the story of the city’s overall history, including its architectural past.

That’s a laudable effort. So is the city’s effort to, as much as possible, rehabilitate substandard housing throughout Washington. A recent windshield survey in the city produced evidence that effort is producing desirable results.

At its Sept. 12 meeting, the Washington City Council reviewed a list of 103 substandard houses in the city, of which 16 were labeled as top priorities by the council. Of those 16 substandard structures, there are 10 the city wants to address by the end of the year, according to a memorandum from John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, to the mayor and council members. Several houses on the list have been demolished.

In recent years, the city has become more aggressive in dealing with structures that do not meet the minimum housing code and/or building codes. The city is willing to work with homeowners and property owners when it comes to fixing up substandard houses. When those homeowners and property owners, many of whom live out of the area or out of state, refuse to make needed repairs to their houses, often the city has no choice but to condemn and demolish them for public-safety reasons.

Rehabilitating a substandard house improves its value, improves the appearance of the neighborhood and provides safe, adequate and affordable housing in a city that needs more affordable housing. Don’t forget that an improved house likely generates more tax revenue for the city. Fixing up substandard houses creates work for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers and others.

Aside from the benefits of bringing substandard houses up to code, it’s just the right thing to do.