It's called the Crime Free Multi Housing program and more than 2000 cities nationwide have already adopted it. Officials say the program has proven itself to be successful in rooting out troublesome tenants and in holding neglectful property owners accountable.
While the program isn't totally up and running, it's beginning to take shape.
It takes every property to make a good neighborhood but it can only take one property to make it a bad one.
"The standards of the community, the quality of life in that neighborhood cannot be made hostage to one problem property on an indefinite basis," said EPD Crime Prevention Office Kevin Corbin.'
Officer Corbin doesn't typically react to crime, he tries to prevent it. He says what could be paramount to crime prevention is the Crime Free Multi Housing Program.
Corbin and fellow EPD Crime Prevention Officer Eric Krogman first learned of the program at a crime prevention school in Louisville last year. For the better part of the last three years, the two have been working to bring the program to the city of Evansville. The program is the brainchild of a Mesa, Arizona police officer and it has a proven track record of reducing crime and reducing the number of service runs to even the most troublesome apartment complexes.
As part of the program, landlords would receive training on how to properly screen potentially troublesome tenant and how to make their properties safer overall. It also gives landlords the legal expertise on how to evict tenants who commit crimes. By adding a 'crime free lease addendum' to the lease, tenants who break the law can be evicted after 'one strike.'
However, to achieve a greater sense of accountability for both renters and owners, the Evansville City Council would need to pass an additional ordinance that would implement the licensing of rental property managers and owners.
"The licensing is more of the issue where we're offering this program on a voluntary basis," said Corbin. "If people don't want to participate, they don't have to. But they're still going to be plenty of properties out there that don't want to make use of it, that are going to be a constant issue for both us and the neighborhoods. We have properties we go to over and over and over again, sometimes multiple times a day."
Not every tenant is troublesome and not every property owner is problematic. That's why Corbin says the entire community has been a part of the process. Corbin says, that way, people from all facets of the community can help shape the program's future.
"Part of the goal this whole time has been to involve people as much as possible," said Corbin. "We've met with them a number of times, we're still going to meet with them to try to get them on board to see the best way to do it."
Corbin says the program's overall benefit comes in the improvement in the surrounding community's quality of life and the first phase of training interested property owners and managers should begin in April. Evansville City Councilwoman Missy Mosby, who's helped spearhead the campaign for the program, says she, Officer Corbin and the city attorney are still fine-tuning the proposed licensing ordinance.