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York City renews contract to continue registry of foreclosed homes

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Council President Henry Nixon speaks during a town hall meeting concerning Mayor Michael Helfrich's hiring of Blanda Nace as chief opportunity development officer, Monday, June 24, 2019. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

An "overwhelming" number of blighted, foreclosed properties has prompted the York City Council to renew a contract with the firm that tracks the city's dilapidated buildings.

The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the renewal with Florida-based Property Registration Champions to register vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties.

The service is free for the city, as the company collects fees from the owners of the properties. 

Neglected lawns and the lack of exterior maintenance on structures have become health and welfare issues, officials have said.

“First of all, the housing stock in York is old, and we’re the poorest folks in the county, so we’re unable to maintain our homes,” said Council President Henry Nixon. “The tax structure is high, school taxes are very high, unemployment is high; it’s all of these things that converge.”

Nixon said the benefits of having a registry include the ability to pinpoint exactly where foreclosed homes are and to get a feel for how many are within the city's limits.

The company also allows the city to have a direct contact when seeking information about foreclosures.

Under the contract, Property Registration Champions contacts the banks, owners or landlords responsible for a property and charges them a registration fee.

The company covers the expenses, administrative costs and fees related to registration. In turn, it keeps $100 from each property it registers. 

The city first approved a contract with the company in 2015.

While foreclosures aren't as bad as they were during and after the 2008 recession, Nixon said he is concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic could contribute to foreclosures as it progresses.

But with 74 foreclosures registered this year, Steve Buffington, deputy director of the city's permits, planning and zoning office, said he "would say that there is not an uptick in the numbers during COVID" based on previous numbers.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.