The Cranky Taxpayer
In terms of the count of vice reports for 2013, RRHA has six (and perhaps up to eight) of the top twenty blocks in the City.
To get another look at the density of the crime at RRHA, I have calculated the number of offense reports per apartment unit at all of the six, large RRHA developments and at several private apartment operations for the period from 1/1/00 to 4/30/03:
(I would gladly update these old data but RPD has made it impossible. They now report all addresses by the block, so I can't distinguish particular addresses. And their computer won't let me download more than a few thousand reports at a time, which makes any attempt at the analysis a great frustration.)
The "Rate" column reports the number of offense reports per apartment unit per year. As you see, the infamous Redwood produced 50.7 offense reports per year, i.e., 2.11 per apartment per year(!). The similarly infamous Midlothian Village produced 1.08 per apartment.
For comparison, this table also includes data from two other apartments in the Combat Zone on Chamberlayne Ave. Finally, the Malvern Manor results indicate what the offense rate looks like in a quiet neighborhood.
Here are the same data in a graph:
There are important lessons to be learned here from the Northcourt and Abbey Square apartments (3914 and 3918-20 Chamberlayne). Both of those places have low-price, one-bedroom apartments and both draw transient tenants who do not have a lot of money. They are located on either side of the notorious Redwood in the tenderloin of the Combat Zone on Chamberlayne Ave. In the late '90's, they both suffered from crime at rates approaching that of the Redwood itself. In both cases new management took over and took control and cleaned up the crime, with the results you see above.
The Justice Department monograph, Keeping Illegal Activity Out of Rental Property: A Police Guide for Establishing Landlord Training Programs, tells us:
Our experience on Chamberlayne Ave. supports those statements: The landlord is the key to cleaning up crime in rental property.
In public, RRHA talks a good game about public safety. For example, their web site says they are “dedicated” to “promoting safety in public housing communities and working closely with residents and city police in preventing crime.”
RRHA's performance contradicts that whopper. Indeed, when I have pressed RRHA about evicting the tenants who harbor the disorder on their property, they have said to me:
· Legal Aid makes it difficult to do anything;
· The judges are reluctant to enforce the lease;
· It would be “onerous” to ask RRHA staff to follow up on all offense reports and calls for service; and
· Given the quality of the people who live in subsidized housing, RRHA can’t be expected to do much better.
These self-serving excuses (including that offensive falsehood at the end of the list) cannot justify RRHA’s ongoing maintenance of a public nuisance here in our city.
According to their auditor's report, they don't have control of their money, either.
More recently, they have told me that about 80% of their tenants are women (most with children) and that evicting these tenants would leave the children homeless. Both of those statements are true but beside the point: RRHA has a large waiting list; doubtless there are decent, honest people on that list who do not enjoy housing subsidies from RRHA. Yet RRHA refuses to evict tenants who harbor crime (usually by their male friends) on RRHA property. In this respect, RRHA states its preference to subsidize people who are fostering crime in preference to the honest people on their waiting list.
I think the Commissioners should be directed to work that is better suited for their talents and that they should be replaced with Commissioners who will take control of their staff, their money, and their property.