Crime Free Housing Hot Topic at Neighborhood Meeting

Crime Free Housing Ordinance

All landlords in Park Forest must be in compliance with the Crime Free Housing Ordinance. (Photo: VOPF)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The recent large number of evictions from the Lofts of Thorn Creek was a major topic of discussion at last week’s neighborhood meeting at Indiana School. Residents took the opportunity to ask about the new Crime Free Housing Ordinance, and officials noted some satisfaction with its effectiveness.

Police Chief Tom Fleming responded, “Part of crime-free housing is you get these landlords to do criminal and financial background checks on tenants. Don’t rent to people that basically are not going to fulfill their end.”

“Thorncreek has no Section 8 or ‘voucher housing’ in it,” Fleming stressed. “There’s a misconception. Those are people who rent, sign leases.”

Fleming said the previous owners were doing poor background checks.

The police chief referenced the properties north of CVS Pharmacy as an example of the effectiveness of crime-free housing, “Those were bought by a different company. They displaced about 50% of the tenants in a two-year period.”

Fleming said he recently asked some members of his tactical units about calls for service in that area. They responded, “We don’t know.”

“What do you mean, ‘you don’t know?’” Fleming said he asked them.

“We don’t go there anymore,” was their response, according to the chief.

“Literally, our calls in just that area dropped. The people that live there deserve good neighbors,” Fleming said.

Fleming spoke about the evictions the previous week, explaining that the problems had compounded over time.

“If you own property in Park Forest, you better have a valid Crime Free Housing license. In order to get that, you have to put in your lease that if you are a criminal or your guests are criminals, the lease is broken.”

Village Manager Tom Mick said there are still issues with the current owner of the property. According to Mick, the property owner lives in Michigan and rarely visits the 420 units he owns.

“I don’t know the last time the property owner was in town.”

Mick said overall the Crime Free Housing Ordinance gives the village “that much more authority and those additional tools to deal with those that are impacting your quality of life.”

Mayor Ostenburg said the village has seen some signs of the effectiveness of the new ordinance, “We have a number of absentee landlords who we have had a questionable relationship with in the past, who are now working much more closely with the police department and with the building department.”

Ostenburg said the training sessions have helped the village develop a relationship with these landlords. The ordinance also gives landlords a “better handle” for controlling problem tenants, according to the mayor.