Monday, May 19, 2008

Two good meetings

A couple of very good meetings took place last week that are noteworthy. On Monday evening, Jon Carlson, Capt. Mike Woolman and I hosted a meeting with landlords. We had invited the individuals and companies who own rental property in the 48 square block area south of the State Capitol where we are focusing our efforts for Stronger Safer Neighborhoods.

I expected a light turnout, and was quite surprised when about 80 individuals showed up at headquarters. We briefed the group on what we are up to in the neighborhood, and introduced them to some resources that might help them: LPD's online resources for background checks, Lincoln's REOMA (Real Estate Owners and Managers Association), and Tenant Data Services. There was a good discussion, and many landlords lingered after the meeting to talk about various issues in greater detail. Landlords are key stakeholders in this area, where the home ownership rate is very low, and 94% of the residential units are rentals.

Meeting number two was on Wednesday night, when I met with high school youth at an open forum sponsored by the Lincoln Police Department's Youth Advisory Council. It was a good discussion with a diverse group of about 40. The most interesting question: "What can we do to help you?" I mentioned practicing good crime prevention (young people are disproportionately victimized by crime) with some specific examples, and staying active in community affairs--including paying attention to the police department's issues, and continuing to give us advice and feedback.

I noted previously that the Topeka Police Department was impressed with our Youth Advisory Council, and has organized a group of there own. All in all, a pair of very worthwhile evenings with two quite different groups, both very engaged and willing to help.


Anonymous said...

I really do hope for the best on the SSN project. Civilian government zoned and permitted the road to the current situation, which is why it was extremely positive news that LPD would be a key player in this undertaking. Your outfit has public credibility and trust that much of civvy local government can only envy from afar.

While you don't have the ability to change zoning regs or throttle and screen building permits, you're doing what you can by enforcing the existing laws to good effect. I'm actually going to credit this blog in part for bringing attention to what a pit that area of town has become.

I used to ride a bike through there 5 days a week on a commute, and always shook my head at the fine old houses, some quite majestic, and how many of them had degraded, run-down and busted-up into little tenements. The multiplexes that the city had allowed to spring up all over, jacking the pop density up and up.

Tom Casady said...

Your observation about the multiplexes is right on target. That's why we now have only a 6% home ownership rate in this area, and why landlords are so important to any improvement. I'll keep you posted on how it's going in the Chief's Corner.

Anonymous said...

It's a vexing knot to unravel, how to reduce the number of already-built multiplexes. Being-profitable private property, and more important to some, taxable property, you can't just roll in the D-9 and flatten them to make room for a couple of small, modestly-priced and owner-occupied homes. In any case, the developers and landlords only did what the government (with tax dollars in their short-sighted eyes) gave them the green light to do, and now the government realizes their mistake, way too late.

One huge obstacle to increasing the home ownership in such an area is this: How many people want to lay out a lot of money to move their families (especially young children) into an area with much higher crime than average for the city as a whole? A single adult or a couple of adults can be risk-takers, but it's a different ball of wax when you're asking your kids to take those risks along with you.

By the way, is there any easily-had data on home-ownership rates over the last 30 or 40 years in that area?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately a lot of landlords are just out to make the buck. That is why they don't spend money and improve their properties. The other issue is a landlord's choice of either picking someone who is going to struggle to make that monthly payment and that person might not a few times or pick the person on housing that will guarantee the payment and deal with a little rif raf. (No I'm not saying all persons on housing are criminals but poverty brings it out in some)