Crime Free Multi-Housing
What is the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program?
The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program (CFMHP) is an honest, direct and solution oriented crime prevention initiative designed specifically to help apartment owners, managers, residents, police and other agencies work together to keep illegal and nuisance activity off rental property. Its unique three-phase approach focuses primarily on helping owners, managers, and residents employ effective techniques that will increase safety as well as prevent and reduce crime on rental properties. The Program does not teach people who are not police officers how to do police work. It provides training in the employment of effective property management techniques, effective use of Residential Tenancy law, and encourages people to take a personal interest in what goes on in their apartment community. It teaches them their responsibilities in working with the police and neighbours to keep illegal activity off their properties.
The CFMHP began in 1992 at Mesa, Arizona. It is a Problem Oriented Policing response to the many police calls to and crime associated with certain apartment communities. Block Watch was not found to be as effective as desired in these multi-housing facilities due to the lack of any long term financial interest or investment by tenants and/or the high turnover of tenants. The CFMHP was therefore developed and has proven to be a very effective crime prevention strategy, bringing in some cases 50% to 70% reduction in crime and police calls for service in problem apartment communities. After eight years Mesa is finding this Program is having an overall positive impact on crime prevention in the city as a whole.
Because of the Program's effectiveness, its popularity soon spread into other areas of the United States with similar results. The New Westminster Police Service brought the Program to Canada in 1994 where similar positive results were again achieved. Seeing the effectiveness of the CFMHP, other British Columbia police departments/detachments, including Abbotsford, have made commitments to work with their local apartment communities with the goal of partnering together to fight and reduce crime. As the partners in this Program work together, its success continues to repeat itself in every participating community. A British Columbia Crime Free Multi-Housing Committee is now in place under the umbrella of the B.C. Crime Prevention Association which seeks to assist communities and their police in developing and operating effective CFMH Programs.
Many criminals live in rental housing, and many of these in rental apartments. Although crime can occur on rental property for a number of reasons, it is usually allowed to come to the property through criminal residents and their "friends". All too often police and apartment owners and managers are frustrated with each other expecting that the other should do something more to deal with crime on rental property. For example managers may think the police should increase area patrols or not release criminals from jail so quickly and easily. Police may think owners and managers should employ more stringent applicant screening and eviction processes.
Police officers can find themselves returning over and over to certain apartment buildings dealing with the same criminals and similar types of criminal and nuisance behaviour. Further, besides criminal and nuisance complaints that police are mandated to deal with, there are times when police calls are civil in nature and therefore unnecessarily use up valuable police resources. Often police resources are taxed to the limit or even being reduced making it virtually impossible for police to increase patrols to apartment communities. Owners, managers and residents require other alternatives.
The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program commenced operation in Abbotsford in March 1998. Interest has grown rapidly with many owners, managers and residents demonstrating a sincere desire to work with the police in reducing crime on rental property. Both the Abbotsford Police Department and participating apartment communities are reaping the noted benefits of this Program. Your participation with us in this endeavour would be welcomed. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Constable Troy Peters at the Abbotsford Police Department, Community Policing Section, telephone 604-864-4823.