Police Credit Crime Free Housing with Drop in Park Forest Crime

Genesis

Police Chief Thomas Fleming, right, reports to the Village Board Saturday as Trustee Georgia O’Neill reviews a crime statistics. (Photo: ENEWSPF)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Police Chief Thomas Fleming had good news for the Village Board at Saturday’s Rules Meeting: crime is down in Park Forest. Referencing an article from the Southtown Star published October 29, 2009: Crime stats reflect economic realities, Fleming said he believes Park Forest’s Crime Free Housing Ordinance is the primary reason for the 9.9% drop in crime in 2008.

Fleming said the ordinance has helped rid the village of renters who have been cause for concern by the police department, "We go to a landlord and say, ‘These people have shown that they’re not good neighbors. We want them out.’ "

According to statistics provided by the police chief, there are 1200 rental properties currently on file, a statistic that includes larger rental properties in the Village such as Autumn Ridge Apartments. Of these 1200, approximately 600 are Housing Voucher properties.

Fleming says there are 615 property owners currently on file. Of these, 175 are currently non-compliant with the Crime Free Housing Ordinance, meaning they have either not attended the required seminar, or they have not registered. 141 have failed to renew their licenses as of June 30, 2009. There are 215 property owners who participate in the Housing Voucher program, and 20 of these have yet to register with Crime Free Housing.

"We’re going to send them notice of the $250 ticket," Fleming said.

Since the start of the fiscal year, the Village of Park Forest has collected $31,275 in Crime Free Housing licensing fees, according to Fleming. All non-compliant property owners will be fined $250 and will have to register their properties for $75 at minimum, according to the chief, requiring them to pay $325 to bring their status current. That will result in an additional $97,500 the Village stands to collect by the end of the current fiscal year, Fleming said.

"We never instituted Crime Free Housing to make money," Fleming said, "We did it to register [properties]. The fee is reasonable. It’s $75 a year." Fleming added that if 100% of landlords were registered, the fees would come close to paying the salary of those appointed to administer the program.

The program is working, Fleming said. According to statistics provide by the PFPD, there were 17,118 Calls for Service as of November 1, 2009. As of November 1, 2009, the PFPD recorded 14,226 Calls for Service, or 2,892 fewer calls, a 16.5% reduction.