The New Bedford City Council needs to act promptly to give this and future administrations the tools to make it tough for slumlords to make a profit by maintaining rundown properties that are both health and safety hazards to the community and those who live in them.

A handful of people own a whole lot of rental properties in New Bedford that are in violation of various codes and have become havens for crime and violence.  Most landlords are following the law and provide for the upkeep of their properties.  They carefully screen tenant applicants.  Still others see housing program vouchers but seldom see the decaying mess their eyesores have become and the blight they bring upon the city.

The existing housing codes and enforcement are in dire need of strengthening and new policies that would force repeat offender landlords onto watch lists are long overdue.  For many of these slum barons the existing fine structure is just one more cost of doing business.

The City Council has been reluctant to tighten the rules for these nuisance landlords but should consider the impact inaction is having on our city.  The Mitchell Administration says it will ask the Council this Fall to back new and stronger penalties and regulations for slumlords but Councilors should begin now drafting rules of their own and working with the Administration in an effort to make all of our neighborhoods safe once and for all.

The time to act is now.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.