Pittsburgh city council approves public shaming program for 'slumlords'

Updated:

Loading

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh city council voted to pass legislation that will allow officials to post signs in front of so-called slumlords' properties.

Councilman Bill Peduto said the legislation will allow the city to erect large signs in front of up to 10 properties owned by people who have received multiple citations and housing court convictions, but have not taken steps to remedy the problems.

Peduto said the signs will show the property owner's name, telephone number and home address. Peduto said the signs will bring down a "veil of anonymity that many problem landlords and property owners hide behind."

Started in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1997 and introduced as a temporary pilot program in Pittsburgh by former-Councilman Dan Cohen in 1998, the program - nicknamed "Operation Red" - has a long track record of success in spurring property owners to finally take care of their obligations, pay their fines and repair their buildings.

In addition to signs in front of the properties, the names and contact information of chronic offenders will be broadcast on the city's cable channel.

"For far too long problem property owners who often don't even live in the city have gotten off with just a slap on the wrist - even with dangerous building code violations that could become serious public safety issues," said Peduto.  "Framingham's program, and Pittsburgh's pilot program in the late '90s, showed us that once these property owners know that they can no longer remain anonymous all of a sudden the problems disappear.  It's time for us to put some real teeth behind our property maintenance laws."