Police: Get Tough on Landlords and Limit Subsidized Housing

Posted October 2nd, 2008 @ 12:29 PM by

At Alder Pham-Remmele’s request the Common Council members were recently forwarded an email between Alder Thuy Pham-Remmele and Captain Jay Lengfeld that I find of great interest for several reasons. Read it for yourself.

Thuy,

It is my opinion that the police department has fulfilled the commitments we stated in the response meeting we had over a year and we continue to work on them. I have attached the PowerPoint presentation and would be interested in what you feel we have not done. It is important that you take some responsibility and ownership for the problems we are having in the neighborhoods. You are one of twenty policy makers for the city. Many of these neighborhood problems could have been prevented with better City Policies. It is much easier to prevent a problem than trying to solve it. Last week alone West District Staff meet with three landlords, had four different problem units be served with 5 to 14 day eviction notices, executed a drug search warrant with a follow-up drug abatement letter, ran a prostitution reversal operation, which netted seven arrests, plus handled all the calls for service and secondary investigation. You must also understand that the West District provides services to six other aldermanic districts. Here are a few suggests on what you can do to help citizens like Mary and other City’s neighborhoods:

1. The City needs to reduce or freeze the number of subsidized housing units in the city. The at risk population in Madison has exceeded the ability of service provides to service them.

2. The City needs to license landlords, so we have citywide standards and can weed out the bad ones.

3. Landlords need more protection to deny applicants with a history of bad behavior. The Russett Rd shooting is a prefect example: a family was evicted from an address on the Southside for behavior reasons and within weeks they had the same bad behavior in the Russett Rd area. We are now evicting them from Russett, but I am sure they will find housing somewhere else in the city and bring the same problems to that neighborhood.

We will be working on the Mayhill problem, but it would be nice to try in preventing these types of problems in the future.

Jay

So, I’m not quite sure where to start . . . perhaps some training for the police department about current tenant and landlord laws in Madison, and Wisconsin. One thing I did do, was ask the City Attorney to dust off the landlord registration ordinance that Alders Jeanne MacCubbin and Matt Sloan worked on and I plan to re-introduce it. That ought to be fun to watch.

Now, a few, um, facts to share with you.

1. The City hasn’t increased its subsidized housing stock in, um, years. CDA hasn’t built any new public housing units since the 1970’s and the section 8 program hasn’t added any Section 8 vouchers since the 1990s. [NOTE: I was a bit off, the last time we got new Section 8 vouchers was 2000/2001.]

2. Landlords have all the ability in the world to deny tenants for bad behavior and eviction records. They simply have to do landlord reference checks and check CCAP.

3. There is no money in the City budget for increased community services to help service providers because we gave it all to the police department last year for their 30 new officers to deal with these problems. You can’t have it both ways, do we need police to solve these problems or services?

My bigger concern is that we have leadership in the police department that are uninformed about what the laws already allow landlords to do and have bought into the stereotype that poor people cause crime. Poor people are poor. Criminals cause crime. Some poor people are criminals. Not all poor people cause crime. Limiting places for poor people to live will not prevent crime. Good landlord screening allowed under the current laws will help make sure that people who create problems in a neighborhood are screened out, regardless of their financial status.

Also, someone, get the police department some freaking training! Please. Oh, wait, I guess that someone is possibly me. But we all know how the police department feels about being told what to do.

Finally, I find this statement very, very interesting.

The at risk population in Madison has exceeded the ability of service provides [sic] to service them.

Does this mean we will see the police advocating for more community services during budget? Is that their professional opinion about what we really need? Because I couldn’t agree more. The COLA increases that the non-profits have been given for the past many years are not covering the costs of healthcare, living wage and other expenses and certainly do not cover the needs of a growing city. And, could you imagine what $2M in community services instead of police services might have done?


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