Neighborhoods feel negative impact of heroin

The heroin and prescription drug abuse problem affecting Williamsport doesn’t just cause an increase in crime or prison overcrowding – it has a negative effect on neighborhoods, as well.

“It’s been shown that in areas where more drug activity occurs, there is a higher percentage of rental properties versus homeowners,” said state police Lt. Robert Mann. “Renters don’t have the same vested interest in the neighborhood and tend to let bad behavior slide more often.”

Sixty percent of available homes in Williamsport are being rented, Mann said, some of which are occupied by dealers from larger cities.

“Williamsport is a hub because it’s in the center of the state. We get drugs and dealers from New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh,” he said.

This also leads to dealers from other states coming in to rent a place just for selling heroin and other drugs, said Capt. Michael Orwig, of the Williamsport Bureau of Police.

“We had an incident with a woman from Kentucky who came up and rented an apartment, and two individuals from Brooklyn moved in, and they were all dealing out of the rental,” Orwig said.

When the apartment eventually was raided, drugs, three stolen handguns and more than $11,000 in cash was found, he said.

Recent incidents in the city underscore the problem.

Within the last two weeks, city police made several arrests in the 600 block of Second Street – an individual with 110 bags of heroin in his possession, another wanted on felony counts of possession of firearms and carrying a firearm without a license, and two who were wanted on state parole violations – all at rental properties.

That two-week span also saw a shooting in the same block of Second Street.