Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whose Really To Blame For Crime Ridden Apartments?

The UPI website had this interesting crime story on a study of crime at apartment complexes in Ohio. University of Cincinnati doctoral student Kathleen Gallagher looked at the correlation between apartment complexes with high crime and disorder and the prevalence of tenants on Section 8 or public assistance.
"Several owners had high numbers of properties with Section 8 tenants and with crime, but we found that these owners also had high crime properties without Section 8 tenants," Gallagher said in a statement. 
"This suggested that the property owners themselves might have created or allowed environments where offenders felt comfortable committing crime." 
In other words, problem landlords seemed to be the root of the problem, not whether residents were using Section 8 housing vouchers or not, Gallagher said.
What I found most interesting is that it wasn't the tenants that were the root of the problem but the management of these complexes. There are a lot of similarities between crime and disorder problems at apartment complexes and similar problems at budget motels.

In fact, Gallagher's findings are similar to findings on studies of disorder at budget motels that was published in the Problem Oriented Policing Center's POP Guide Disorder At Budget Motels that had this bit:
Motels attract crime, in that people inclined to commit it are drawn to them because their conditions and reputations are favorable for doing so. Poorly managed motels also enable crime by attracting offenders to a location with weak oversight.
There is also a similar conclusion in the POP Guide Drug Dealing in Privately Owned Apartment Complexes.

If we remember the Crime Triangle we know that for crime to occur we have to have a motivated offender come together with a suitable victim in time and place.

Applying the Crime Triangle to look at crime and disorder at these apartment complexes or at budget motels we will probably find that many of these problematic locations have different offenders and different victims coming together in these locations. The one constant is the location. When management of the location is inadequate in extending control over the place these locations will make it easier for offenders and victims to come together and for a crime to occur.

If we are going to be effective at tackling crime and disorder problems at apartment complexes that have a disproportionate amount of police calls, we're going to have to convince landlords to change the environment in their complexes.

What has your agency done to motivate the owners of troubled apartments to work with you in solving crime and disorder problems at these locations?

Thanks to Julie Wartell on the IACA mailing list for the heads up on the Ohio study story.

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