I am not deliberately trying to pick on East Whiteland Township no matter what some may think. But unlike many other municipalities (and I have been checking), East Whiteland does not have a person or people to regularly and routinely inspect rental properties in this township. They do not even have enough fire personnel to do all the life safety checks on rentals do they? (Asking the question because I heard there were people paid to do that I thought once upon a time out of the fire department or something?)
West Goshen (for example) has a rental property ordinance online. They have someone dedicated to rental inspections. That is in addition to the guys in the zoning department who inspect when the township gets complaints on rental properties.
The Borough of West Chester also has an ordinance and I am told as well as two dedicated rental property inspectors although residents say there are so many rentals they need more.
East Whiteland has a Rental Occupancy Report from 1992. I also found a form to fill out if you have a rental property. It mentions life safety, which is great and necessary. But I do not see anything about specific ordinances pertaining to rental properties and inspections of rental properties. And it is long past time to have that. East Whiteland is growing as a township and has grown exponentially in recent years. Does this township even know out of ALL of the new construction that is complete how many are rental units? And with ALL of the development still in the works and in various stages of construction, let’s get real, they are not all going to be owner occupied, aren’t some of these places going to be rentals? And what about the hotels? Are some of those like long term rentals at times? Sometimes when people can’t find housing they live in hotels/motels don’t they? Motor home parks? Trailer parks? No matter where the rental, shouldn’t people be safe?
Why am I thinking about this again? Human trafficking. If there were regular rental inspections and code enforcements along Route 30/Lancaster Avenue/Lincoln Highway where the human trafficking locations were, would we have even had human trafficking? Maybe, maybe not. I am told that human trafficking happens everywhere. And there is plenty that has happened in Pennsylvania. According to Fox23 in Central PA, Pennsylvania is ranked 11th in the nation for human trafficking. The Philadelphia Sun wrote about human trafficking this past March. The Philadelphia Sun said:
Deception, coercion, recruitment, and abduction are just some of the tools of trade for traffickers.
Trafficking in America is a billion-dollar business in all 50 states, where women, children, and men are being exploited; their lives of no value other than the profits they earn.
Where sex trafficking can occur:
Moving around in your daily life, in the city, suburbs, rural areas
Transportation systems: Septa, Uber, and Lyft
Brothels (houses), motels, and major hotel chains
Bars, strip clubs, high-end baller parties
Online via social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and TwitterPhiladelphia Sun March 13, 2020
In November 2019 a woman named Tammy McDonnell who survived being trafficked spoke at Cabrini in Radnor. Read about it here: Survivor tells how to spot ‘red flags’ of human trafficking.
The stretch of Lancaster Ave/Route 30/Lincoln Highway where these rentals exist is a no man’s land. No one sees the people who live there, not because they aren’t visible but because people don’t want to see them. Mostly immigrant, with little choice in housing. And by culture, used to living in close quarters. So one would think rental inspections along that strip and elsewhere would make sense, right? So everyone was safe?
According to Patch, “The apartments used were at street addresses 483, 577 and 609 Lancaster Ave. in East Whiteland Township…”
Someone sent me screenshots off ChescoViews and Google Earth I guess it was (I am not very good at using Chesco Views):
This stretch of Lancaster is the one that looks so desolate and run down when you drive by except for the too many cars on the D’Ambrosio property (one of the sites of human trafficking right?):
People always ask how East Whiteland can be focused on this grand future of over-development without “seeing” these properties or their residents. During COVID19 especially when we were all at home, you couldn’t help but see as soon as the weather warmed up how many people live in these rental properties alone. I have also had people tell me in confidence that there are some awfully crammed rental properties in some of the townhouse developments.
So….maybe it is time for East Whiteland to look at this differently? They need an updated local ordinance on rental properties right? And I think they need a full time inspector of rental properties and possibly more staff, like maybe a part time one.
East Whiteland needs this NOW, yesterday and into the future. They have to find the money to have proper inspectors because I doubt there enough in the Fire Marshall category, and how much work are they supposed to do anyway? Aren’t they already stretched thin?
I will remind people of Christmas night 2016. That is when one of the rental properties in this stretch of road next to the Wawa at Planebrook went up in flames. A family lost everything that lived in one of these ramshackle rental units. And I think they never came back to East Whiteland. After all, it’s not like there really is any affordable housing right?
So you know how the fire by the Wawa was December 2016? How about that building which is uninhabitable has just sat there and rotted since then? Seriously here are some photos taken over the past few years (a real slum lord special, right?):
I was a renter for years. Face it, a lot of us were, and some still are. Would you want to live in any of these properties? What if you had no other choice? And were these landlords in the human trafficking locations 100% oblivious as to what was going on?
Potential For More Trafficking Victims Out There: Chesco DA
The Chester County DA’s Office calls for watchful eyes on kids in communities.
By Marlene Lang, Patch Staff
Verified Patch Staff Badge
Jul 9, 2020 4:20 pm ET
Updated Jul 9, 2020 4:46 pm ET
NBC10 Philadelphia: ‘I Don’t Want to Be Here.’ Girl’s Message Uncovers Chester Co. Sex Trafficking Ring
Three men face charges for running a human sex trafficking organization in the Malvern, Pennsylvania, area
Inquirer: Sex-trafficking ring uncovered after 14-year-old victim tells mom: ‘I don’t want to be here anymore’
by Ellie Silverman, Posted: July 8, 2020
Pennsylvania Real-Time News Penn Live (AP)
Sex trafficking arrests made after 14-year-old’s plea to mom: ‘I don’t want to be here anymore’
Updated Jul 09, 2020; Posted Jul 09, 2020
I also want everyone to know as per my sources, the East Whiteland Police Department truly went above and beyond the call of duty with this. It wasn’t just this girl messaging family that went into this. For a smaller department by comparison to large cities and boroughs, they put lots of man and woman power into this.
East Whiteland Police Department did exhaustive investigation and follow-up and coordinating with all different kinds of other agencies and states and it really does show their dedication to our community. These men and women should be publicly recognized for their efforts. In a time when police departments are being criticized, these men and women deserve to be commended. Ok yes, this is the job they sign up for, but this is huge. Or in my humble opinion it is. And kudos to our Chester County District Attorney as well.
I have many questions regarding human trafficking an how it happened. I will be curious to learn if the families of these girls who were rescued had ever reported them missing? If they did not, why not? Immigration fears or something darker? I ask because if my kid was missing I would leave no stone un-turned.
However I think we need to work as an extended community to prevent these things from happening and I think that means they need to have a system in place in East Whiteland Township and elsewhere in which rental properties are routinely and regularly inspected. Everybody’s been talking about this strip of rental properties in particular for years it’s nothing new. And East Whiteland like many other municipalities in Chester County are experiencing crazy amounts of development and growth. Why not have developers who want to be in our communities chip into programs like this? Isn’t it kind of part of infrastructure and municipal services? I mean it’s all great that mythical theory of build it and they will come but who keeps track once the developers have gotten their money out of sites and moved on?
I am calling on people in East Whiteland and Chester County to contact East Whiteland Township and ANY OTHER TOWNSHIP that does not have proper rental property ordinances and inspectors to catch up with the times. A lot of municipalities like East Whiteland are experiencing growth that is off the charts. Renters deserve safe places to live. Low income residents deserve truly affordable housing and safe housing.
Be safe out there. Thanks for stopping by.