Bush House Hotel owner says Quakertown ‘acted egregiously’

Louetta R. Clark

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Much has been said about the Bush House Hotel over the past few months, it’s time to set the record straight.

For more than 85 years, the Bush House Hotel in Quakertown has offered low-income housing to our community’s low-income residents, disabled, and elderly members. To them, this is their home. There are residents who have lived at the Bush House for many years, some almost all of their adult life. Many have no family, little or no money, no advocates, and no alternatives. And yet for five years, the borough of Quakertown has been waging an unjust war against the Bush House Hotel and our residents.

The borough’s latest shot was fired one cold, early morning this past November when officials surprised Bush House residents and rousted them from their beds right before the holiday season. The borough specifically denied us and residents advance notice of the condemnation in order to dramatize the incident and incite fear through the use of the media. They informed residents by sledge-hammering down doors and giving them 20 minutes and small Ziploc bags to collect their belongings and get out. Then, they were paraded outside and made to shower on a public street.

Tom Skiffington, owner of the Bush House Hotel, in Quakertown, stands inside a third floor unit, Monday, April 4, 2022.

Tom Skiffington, owner of the Bush House Hotel, in Quakertown, stands inside a third floor unit, Monday, April 4, 2022.

The township then held a press conference during which it misrepresented the property’s condition only to cast further shame on our residents.

The borough acted egregiously. Contrary to its public stance, the borough’s actions were the culmination of years of persistent harassment dating back to a failed attempt to negotiate the purchase of the Bush House Hotel by a third-party developer. As part of the failed deal, the borough pledged to apply $3.3 million in state grant money for the purchase and redevelopment of the property. This fell by the wayside in 2013 when borough officials refused to match a portion of the grant money along with Bucks County.

It seems that a minority of rule makers have decided that there is no place for the low income in their idealized vision of Quakertown. Ironically, a town named after compassionate and tolerant people now seems to be ruled by the intolerant.

The Bush House is here for one reason: it’s needed. It’s needed by people who have nowhere else to turn. It’s needed by the town, which calls upon these residents to perform the local work that others simply do not want to do. Without the Bush House, residents would be forced onto the street and to use taxpayers’ services to meet their needs.

Tom Skiffington owns MT Estate Realty, based in Perkasie, and the Bush House Hotel in Quakertown.

Editor’s Note: The borough contends the November condemnation was a last resort after Skiffington put off significant repairs leading to an “unprecedented” building-wide insect infestation.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Guest Opinion: Bush House owner says Quakertown ‘acted egregiously’

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