An apartment complex in Wyandotte County, Ks., near Kansas City, has become the first in the area to be certified under the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, an international effort to reduce criminal activity in rental housing, says the Kansas City Star. Improvements already made at the facility have reduced calls for police service by 72 percent.
Tim Zehring of the nonprofit International Crime Free Association Inc., based in Mesa, Az., said rental properties needed special programs to fight crime. Crime-prevention programs like block watches are not so effective in apartment communities, Zehring said, because tenants do not have financial interests in their homes, so there is no long-term commitment. “If a rental applicant has a significant past, one that might be deemed a threat to others, management can deny housing because of that history,” Zehring said. Mesa in 1992 started requiring rental applicants to undergo criminal background checks. Applicants were required to sign lease addendums saying they could be evicted if they committed any crimes. The crime prevention program has spread to nearly 2,000 U.S. cities and five Canadian provinces, as well as Japan, Russia, England, and Malaysia. The programs have been adapted to cover all types of rental properties, including motels, mobile homes, and self-storage lockers.