AUGUSTA — A proposal to allow the city to conduct safety inspections of apartments occupied by tenants who receive General Assistance faces public scrutiny Thursday.

City officials hope the ordinance helps ensure tenants, at least those who receive housing assistance from the city through the General Assistance program, have safe places to live.

“It is in the interest of taxpayers that any tax dollars spent on housing be spent on units that meet basic (safety) and sanitary standards,” the proposed ordinance states. “The purpose of the inspection is to determine whether that unit or dwelling, in addition to all common spaces, are safe to occupy and in compliance with the laws, ordinances, and codes outlined here.”

Matt Nazar, the city’s development director, said the ordinance is not meant to require landlords to bring older buildings up to current building code standards, but is meant to require them to bring, and keep, their buildings up to current safety-related codes. Those codes, he said, include requirements for smoke detectors and secondary ways of getting out of a building’s upper floors.

An attorney who represents landlords in the Capital Area Housing Association, Brian Winchester, has expressed concern that the city’s requirements could go too far.

In the last year, the city has declared nine buildings and a floor of another building unsafe for occupancy and ordered tenants of the 50 units in those buildings to move out. Concerns about those and other unsafe living conditions prompted councilors to consider adopting the ordinance as part of the city’s General Assistance provisions.

On Thursday, councilors will hold the first of two readings on the proposal and accept public comment on it.

Councilors are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Augusta City Center. Councilors are also scheduled to:

• Hold a public hearing regarding the city’s application for Community Development Block Grant funding from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The $300,000 could help a private developer convert the former Cony High School flatiron building into housing for senior citizens and provide $200,000 for a Cony Village program that provides down payment assistance for housing;

• Hear the presentation of the Mayor’s Awards for Excellence to Mark and Deanna Burks-Walker, Augusta Fuel Co. and Bread of Life Ministries; and

• Consider changes to parking rules, banning parking on the south side of Bridge Street.

Keith Edwards – 621-5647[email protected]

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