Room to disagree: Why Philly can’t decide what to do with its illegal rooming houses

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The deadly fire that engulfed 1855 N. 21st St. began on the second floor. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The deadly fire that engulfed 1855 N. 21st St. began on the second floor. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A deadly house fire at an illegal rooming house in North Philadelphia last March had city officials calling for reform. But one year later, nothing has changed. It’s unclear how many of these places there are, but the city thinks there could be thousands. While some argue they should be legalized to fill a need for more affordable housing, others push back over concerns about property values. Why can’t officials decide on the best way to deal with these homes? On this episode of The Why, PlanPhilly reporter Jake Blumgart walks us through the debate.

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