Thursday, April 24

Crime and Violence

No, this blog is not off hiatus. I have made the mistake of taking on too many obligations lately, and I just do not have time to blog. However, I would like to solicit opinions on how we all should begin to deal with vexing problems that continue to crate problems throughout the lower North side.

Just to give proper attribution, this post is based on a comment I made on GF Girl's blog here.

As you might have read in the paper today, Neighborhood Council 7 facilitated a town hall meeting for the residents of the 500 block of 5th Avenue North yesterday. The violence and drug activity there are unacceptable and we need to take steps to address those problems.

Neighbors on that block raised a lot of concerns at the meeting. Both 515 and 521 5th Avenue North are single family homes that have been converted into multi-family rental properties.

Both properties are in significant disrepair, and tenants often live in the properties for only weeks or months at a time. Residents of properties like these are responsible for much of the crime in the lower North and South sides of Great Falls.

As you can imagine, these properties are rented by those that are extremely low-income. What can only be regarded as a ramshackle slum is often their last resort before homelessness.

Anecdotally, the neighbors of those houses continue to observe activity consistent with the dealing of drugs. One neighbor said that she often observed dozens of cars stopping by 515 5th Avenue North in a period of one or two hours.

Most of the people at the meeting placed the blame on non-responsive landlords who "will rent to anyone" and "do not care what kind of illegal activity they do there."

Discussion turned to rental property standards and landlord licensing.

We have a problem on the lower North and South sides of Great Falls. By God, does it take finding a dead body in the street to wake us up?

We will clean up our downtown. I welcome your thoughts and ideas for the best way to do so.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Consider organizing a Neighborhood Block Rosary program for the troubled area.

Ed McKnight said...

Aaron,

Someone mentioned that these might be Sec 8 rentals. If that is true I suggest neighbors familiarize themselves with Sec 8 standards and have a way to report to the housing office. Here is a sample contract.

http://www.butte-housing.com/hud_52641.pdf

Sec 8 has strict guidelines but weak enforcement. The way the housing office determines if anything is wrong is usually a complaint by the tenant or landlord.

Of particular interest to the neighbors may be this:

Part B

#14 (page 6 in the link)

f. The PHA may deny approval to assign the HAP contract if the owner or proposed new owner (including a principal or other interested party):

(5) Has a history or practice of failing to terminate tenancy of tenants assisted under any Federally assisted housing program for activity engaged in by the tenant, any member of the household, a guest or another person under the control of any member of the household that
(a) Threatens the right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents;
(b) Threatens the health or safety of other residents, of employees of the PHA, or of owner employees or other persons engaged in management of the housing;
(c) Threatens the health or safety of, or the right to peaceful enjoyment of their residents by, persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises; or
(d) Is drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity;

GFGirl said...

Aaron,

I don't mean to go off topic, but what time is your work session meeting next Thursday?

Treasure State Jew said...

5:30 p.m.

GFGirl said...

Aaron,

I just realized that I forgot to ask where the meeting is going to be held.