Two recent op-eds in local newspapers address the issue of blight though coming from differing angles.

The Times News piece, uses a problem property for the past 30 years as an impetus to call for a greater focus on blight. However, the piece in the Altoona Mirror advocates for a continual focus on blight and “the challenge involves moving the issue forward, rather than allowing it to retreat into limbo.”

The latter does provide several interesting comments.

Specifically, the challenge a community faces when aggressively challenging the “bad apples” to ensure the messaging is accurate.
“Messages also must not create a misconception that the city is being undermined by a flood of bad landlords. It is not. There are many good landlords here but, unfortunately, there also are some who local officials would rather see renting properties somewhere else.”

Additionally, the op-ed acknowledges that Altoona’s blight is not unlike that which other cities are dealing and that other Pennsylvania (and other states) cities have the same problem, perhaps problems of a larger scale.

Therefore if a solution works elsewhere it should be replicated.

Finally, one profound quote, “What must always be kept in mind, though, are the broad negative ramifications of this creeping cancer that, in reality, should be easier to prevent than to heal.”

Unfortunately, often times blight only gets on local leaders radar when there is a property like the one featured in the Times News piece. There are tools and strategies that could and should be implemented that are preventative. A VPRO is one primary example.

Though Altoona is keeping the foot on the gas in this ongoing challenge, they and others should continue to think creatively and utilize all available resources, including the right public-private collaborations.