Lackawanna County’s battle against blight finally appears to be ready to move beyond Scranton’s city limits.
County officials recently began assembling a task force on blight through the Lackawanna County Land Bank in conjunction with NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that provides home ownership assistance, credit and debt counseling and other services. As the task force of mostly volunteers comes together, NeighborWorks will conduct a survey among municipal officials and put together information about blight issues affecting communities, their ordinances and code enforcement. The task force is expected to issue a report in November on blight conditions in county municipalities and to offer possible strategies and solutions.
This endeavour represents the logical geographic extension of the land bank’s purpose and initiates a concerted effort to address blight problems on a countywide basis.
The county established the land bank in 2015 to accelerate the return of properties to the tax rolls through the sales of abandoned properties at drastically discounted prices. Sales began in the summer of 2017 but the activity so far has been confined to Scranton. The land bank has sold 54 properties in the city and another 115 locations in Scranton are listed for sale.