Filth, overcrowding found after surprise property inspections in Lancaster

Lancaster

Lancaster city officials got warrants to check out 10 properties and found what they consider inhumane conditions.

Mayor Danene Sorace says they found excessive filth, unsafe electricity, leaky roofs, and even sewer flooding in a basement.

The landlord says the conditions that the city describes aren’t accurate.

“We’ve seen them knocking on people’s doors,” said Veronica Joyner, who lives in Lancaster and saw the surprise home inspections this week. “We’ve seen them going through alleyways with bolt cutters.”

“Who does that to a person?” Sorace said. “Who takes advantage of someone in that way?”

Sorace says a South Lime Street home was so unsafe it was condemned. 

Eight of the ten properties broke a code that allows only three unrelated people to live together in a rental property.

Sorace says inspectors found single rooms used as homes to entire families, and that people even urinated in water bottles.

“Basically, these houses need to be emptied within 72 hours because they’re not going to get zoning approval to maintain them as a boarding house, and they’re not going to be able to complete all the work that needs to be done to keep them up to code,” said Sorace. 

The mayor says housing has been a priority since she took office, but that effort intensified when a tenant died in a house fire last month.

“It’s a great concern,” said Milzy Carrasco, Lancaster’s neighborhood engagement director. “We’re very concerned about the families.”

The landlord of that home and one of the 10 inspected properties is Dwaine London. He didn’t want to be interviewed on camera but says there were some minor violations and he’ll work with the city to correct them.

London and neighbors tell us he is giving homes to people who would otherwise be on the streets. 

The city says it’s partnering with local churches and agencies to help the 10 people from the condemned property find safe housing. You can donate to that effort by clicking here.

Sorace tells us that anyone can call the housing hotline to report poor conditions. The number is 717-291-4706.

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