When Mildred Gehman* portrayed the house on the southeast corner of 12th and Walnut Streets in 1950, it was already about 60 years old. Another 60 years have passed, and the house still looks the same today. The bricks of Allentown hold up well. Yesterday, as I passed the corner of Madison and Chew Streets, I noticed three buildings in a row wearing a new orange tag, Unfit for Human Habitation. I have seen many clusters of these orange tags. They are generally handed out to one unfortunate owner or another, by one inspector. Recently, I received a phone call from such a hapless owner. His two buildings were tagged for some superficial reason, such as peeling paint. Everybody knows who has painted, or paid to have his house painted, that the stuff starts peeling off in short order, since the lead and other emulsions have been removed. Back to hapless owner. Because his buildings were tagged, the tenants were forced to move. In addition to the disruption in the tenants lives, the owner was denied the income stream to meet his debt service. Upon completion of the work on the list, the inspector then created a new list upon re-inspection. The re-inspections required scheduling specific inspectors, such as plumbing and electric, and dragged out the time frame. The primary inspector then inflicted a third list on the owner. Over a year has passed, his two buildings remain vacant, and the owner is out over $Thirty thousand dollars. Buildings on 12th Street, just north of Chew, have been tagged so long that the orange is fading on the notices. The city can mistreat rental operators because the public has little to no sympathy for that class of ownership. Several years ago, Allentown passed a Point Of Sale inspection law, which requires inspections of all private houses for sale. Welcome to the bureaucracy. To post a comment pertaining to a specific property, owner or inspector, you must must use your name.
*Mildred Gehman,1908-2006, starting teaching at the Baum Art School in 1946. At that time, Baum was on the southwest corner of 12th and Walnut Streets, across the street from the house shown above.