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From Blight to Bright in Hazleton

HAZLETON — Blighted properties have been a problem within Hazleton for years, but a map circulating online shows there are 84 condemned, vacant properties...
haz buildings

HAZLETON — Blighted properties have been a problem within Hazleton for years, but a map circulating online shows there are 84 condemned, vacant properties just sitting there waiting to be dealt with.

City leaders say they’re too cash-strapped to fix it all at once.

With cracked windows, dangling wires, and broken siding, it’s not hard to find this blight in the city of Hazleton, where a new interactive map circulating online shows more than 80 buildings sit condemned.

The map and accompanying data were compiled by The Hazleton Standard Speaker and are linked to this article.

“These homes are gorgeous, gorgeous homes. To be left to go like this, it’s a sin.”

But that’s what’s happening. Neighbors on North Wyoming Street believe they know what’s causing the problem.

“It’s a disaster. Some of them are out-of-town landlords who have not kept up with things the way they should have,” said Joseph McGarry of Hazleton.

City leaders have begun charging these landlords, forcing them to pay fines.

“It really is a magnet for crime and the more it deteriorates, the worse the neighborhood is,” said Hazleton Mayor Joe Yannuzzi.

The city is currently negotiating fines with the owner of a torn down house on McKinley Street.

Mayor Yannuzzi says the city will do the same thing for other properties, but will have to go one building at a time.

“If the city had the money, we definitely would go after all these properties, tear what we could down, restart, but we don’t have any money at all,” said Mayor Yannuzzi.

Mayor Yannuzzi says Hazleton has only one codes officer and one health inspector and can’t afford to hire any more.

Neighbors say they understand, but something needs to be done.

“Now they are so dilapidated, weeds that are taller than some people, no pride anymore,” said Diana Jessel of Hazleton.

The mayor says he’s found other cities that have started a non-profit group called “From Blight to Bright.” He hopes to eventually start a non-profit like that in Hazleton so money could be raised specifically to clean up these condemned properties.