News

Pa. community stays mum on ban on renting to ex-offenders

Written by Emily Previti/Keystone Crossroads | Jul 11, 2016 3:15 AM
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Darcy Smith, who was convicted on felony drug charges and served time in prison, was recently sent an eviction notice from her landlord because of a local ordinance. Smith is fighting the ordinance in Cambria County court. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

(Undated) -- One Cambria County borough has been tight-lipped as the deadline approaches for appealing a court ruling that overturned a local ban on renting to ex-offenders.

In Gallitzin, it specifically focused on people convicted of a felony drug offense within the past seven years.

The borough's attorney, mayor and secretary say council will vote on whether to appeal on Wednesday, five days before they're out of time to decide.

Council passed the ordinance in response to the 16-hundred-person community's struggle with heroin.

The number of overdoses per capita in Cambria County ranks second of 67 counties in Pennsylvania.

Attorney Tim Burns agrees the area has a drug problem, but argued Gallitzin's ban is unconstitutional and conflicts with state landlord and parole laws.

Burns represents Darcy Smith, who filed a lawsuit after she got an eviction notice last winter.

Cambria County Judge Tamara Bernstein's decision focused on state law and didn't address its constitutionality.

At least two other communities have similar rules: Sunbury in Northumberland County and Mifflinburg in Union County.

 

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