House committee unanimously approves Merski bill to fight blight

HARRISBURG, May 25 – The House Housing and Community Development Committee yesterday unanimously approved state Rep. Bob Merski’s bill that would make it easier for local governments to fight blight.

Merski, D-Erie, said his H.B. 255 would allow municipalities to enter into cooperative agreements with each other to address blight and would create a fund to strengthen enforcement efforts. 

"The governor has proposed new investments in community revitalization, and those projects can be transformative for Erie and other communities. But we need to lay the groundwork by eliminating the blighted, abandoned properties that invite crime and deter investment,” Merski said. “My bill would allow communities to join forces in fighting blight and would bolster those efforts by providing the additional resources needed to enforce code violations.

Among other things, Merski’s bill would establish a grant program administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development to fund new code enforcement programs, including the hiring of enforcement officers, and strengthen existing efforts.

The bill is now headed to the House chamber for consideration.