New program ensures safe neighborhoods

FAIRFIELD, CA One of the many side effects of the economic crisis has been an increase in crime. But a simple, innovative program developed in the Bay Area is claiming to help ensure that your home and neighborhood are safer. And they're seeing a lot of success.

It's called the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program; it brings property managers, residents and police together against the people who cause trouble at apartment complexes. It's pretty strict -- people are getting evicted from their homes -- but supporters love it and say it works.

Beverly Campbell has found she sometimes loses potential renters when she presents people with an addendum they need to sign along with their lease. But she actually feels lucky when they walk away.

"I found in losing some business because of this - it's not a problem for me because I know in the back of my mind we're a safe community as a result of it," said Beverly Campbell, property manager.

The crime free addendum says Campbell can evict you if you -- or any of your guests -- commit any crimes while on the property. It's one part of the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program.

"Well I've seen a tremendous difference," said Tiffany Harkneff, resident.

Residents say they now feel safe to walk outside at night. The calls to police from this apartment complex have gone down nearly 70 percent. Numbers like that motivated another nearby property to join the program. An apartment complex on Dover Street will become the 23rd community to be crime free certified in Fairfield.

"It's a great program, its very successful and easy to adapt in cities - so I knew it wouldn't be too difficult to certify properties," said Asia Rothstein, coordinator.

One phase of the program involves police walking around and pointing out everything a property owner needs to change; shrubs must be shorter than three feet so someone can't hide in them; peepholes need to give residents a wide range of sight; lighting should be bright enough that people can see 15 feet in front of and behind them. The changes can get expensive, but the program offers grants to help cover the costs.

"We try to help as much as we can we make it as easy as possible to get them certified and get extra help from the police department," said Rothstein.

The residents at Beverly Campbell's property are thrilled she decided to spend $10,000 making the changes. They're now forming relationships with their neighbors that money can't buy.

"We look out for one another. We just had an ice cream social just awhile ago, and it was really nice we get to gather as a neighborhood and talk," said Harkneff.

The program is so successful it's even being exported to other countries - a city in Afghanistan is trying it.

If you would like to learn more about this program please click on:

Or call the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program director at (707) 428-7030

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