Reducing Crime In Residential Neighborhoods Focus Of Birmingham Conference
On October 21, 2009, more than a hundred individuals involved in the housing industry in Alabama gathered at a Conference sponsored by the Housing Fund of Central Alabama and the Birmingham Field Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development whose objective was to teach participants strategies to reduce crime in troubled neighborhoods as well as spur revitalization.
The Conference was moderated by Tim Vance, Director of Public Safety Initiatives at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, City of New York. Mr. Vance is also an attorney and author of, "How to Get Drug Enterprises Out of Housing." Mr. Vance's presentation was high energy and involved a high degree of audience participation. It was practical, down to earth and participants left the day with real steps that they could take to reduce crime in their own neighborhoods.
The first thing that Mr. Vance did during the workshop was to show those who may have entered the day concerned with the cost of any effort to reduce crime in their properties or neighborhoods, the cost of doing nothing. In the early part of his presentation he talked about the cost to communities in additional Police expense, additional Fire Department expense, lowered property values and lowered quality of life. Many in the room were surprised at the real cost of doing nothing, and this was a good segue to the section of the workshop on actual strategies to reduce crime.
Mr. Vance walked participants through several crime reduction strategies and techniques. First of all he spoke of the importance of having the appropriate City ordinances in place that will both help prevent crime, and make it financially infeasible for absentee landlords to ignore vacant or problem properties that often become a source of crime in struggling neighborhoods. During this segment participants were referred to examples of both good and bad ordinances in the materials that accompanied the workshop. Vance also discussed in detail house rules and documents that landlords can use that define the rights and responsibilities of residents, such that when violations occur owners have proof that the resident was aware of the policy that is being violated.
Early on in the process Mr. Vance broke the room up into teams that worked together throughout the day on the various exercises. To say the least this encouraged a sense of competition within the room that kept the day lively.
In addition to the crime prevention strategies that he shared Mr. Vance also shared his own philosophy regarding crime reduction, and in doing so he quoted a California Priest who has been very active in gang prevention efforts. He said that he concurred with the spirit of a quote attributed to the Priest, that said simply, "The best way to stop a bullet is with a job." He also encouraged participants to understand that while the methods he had highlighted over the course of the day were necessary steps to take to control crime in our properties, that we should not, or better still must not, view crime reduction as a law enforcement activity only.
|Content Archived: December 20, 2013|