Wolf administration tours blighted properties, details benefits of Restore PA for Norristown

Currently, local governments like Norristown cannot fund the demolition or redevelopment of most of their blighted properties themselves.

Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Secretary for Community Affairs and Development Rick Vilello joined local officials and community leaders on a tour of blighted properties in Norristown, Montgomery County. The tour included a discussion about the region’s challenges in its fight against blight. They also discussed how the Restore Pennsylvania proposal could help municipalities eradicate blight.

“Tours like this are eye-opening,” Vilello said. “Norristown is doing a commendable job at battling blight. But it’s clear that they only have the resources to scratch the surface of the issue. The extremely high cost of blight removal means we need a bold proposal like Restore Pennsylvania to give our communities the tools they need to tackle this critical problem across the commonwealth.”

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Restore Pennsylvania, the $4.5 billion bipartisan proposal funded through a commonsense severance tax, would increase financial resources at the local level to acquire and demolish blighted properties to create new development opportunities and provide new green space. The funding will be administered by entities established by the legislature as land banks or demolition funds.

Currently, local governments like Norristown cannot fund the demolition or redevelopment of most of their blighted properties themselves. If passed into law, Restore Pennsylvania would fund blight remediation efforts at a level far beyond any existing funding mechanisms at the local and state levels.

“The problem of blighted buildings is more than just the individual properties and unsafe buildings,” said Judith Memberg, executive director of Genesis Housing Corporation in Norristown, who led the tour. “Blight impacts the entire neighborhood by reducing property values, discouraging other investments and slowing revitalization efforts. Restore Pennsylvania is what we need to give us the resources to address blight here in Norristown.”

“The Municipal Council annually devotes significant financial and human resources to address blight in Norristown, the county seat of Montgomery County,” said Crandall Jones, municipal administrator for Norristown. “Restore Pennsylvania’s assistance on improving assets like aging and neglected housing stock, technology and infrastructure would be transformative for our city and others like it throughout Pennsylvania.”

Restore Pennsylvania is a statewide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs. Funded through a commonsense severance tax, Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that will help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century.

View the full Restore Pennsylvania plan here.

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