Sustaining the Biggest Public Nuisance in Richmond

Not satisfied at maintaining the largest public nuisance in Richmond – the one that just led to the shooting death of a State PolicemanRRHA now proposes to do nothing realistic about it:

  • Fencing and gates.  RRHA says this remedy is “largely . . . impractical.”  I guess killing policemen is more “practical.”
  • Parking stickers and IDs.  Not a bad idea, but worthless until they have the off-duty cops in place to catch the trespassers.
  • Empowerment programs.  So, the problem largely is male visitors and they are going to “empower” the tenant girlfriends who are harboring those males?  Please!  The remedy is to evict those girlfriends.
  • Summer programs for the kids.  Good thing to do but unrelated to the visiting male problem.

This is not rocket science, folks:

  • The feds tell us “(1) that effective property management can have a major impact on the health of a community, and (2) that accessible, legitimate techniques can be used to stop the spread of drug activity on rental property.”
  • Indeed, as to drugs (and certainly as to other crime), nuisance abatement is the sole tactic that has been shown scientifically to reduce crime in residential places.  The DOJ monograph says: “With the evidence available we are relatively certain that holding private landlords accountable for drug dealing on their property by threatening abatement reduces drug related crimes.”  Whether as to drug activity or other disorder, the landlord is the only entity that can make the physical changes to the property, evict the troublesome tenants, hire the security, control the access, and enforce the lease terms necessary to make the property safe.

Yet, RRHA, aside from the fences they have rejected, is not talking about what we know can help here:

  • Lights;
  • Cameras;
  • Access control;
  • Off-Duty cops on patrol;
  • Rigorous trespass enforcement; and
  • Rigorous lease enforcement (i.e., eviction of the girlfriend who harbors the disorder)

As to that last point, the HUD lease [at Para. 25] contains the necessary provisions.  These include eviction for, inter alia:

  • Drug related criminal activity engaged in  on or near the premises by any tenant, household member, or guest; and
  • Criminal activity by a tenant, any member of the tenant’s household, a guest or another person under the tenant’s control that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents or by persons residing in the immediate vicinity.

Yet, when I spoke with them about this (in the distant past), they said

  • Legal Aid makes it difficult to do anything;
  • The judges are reluctant to enforce the lease;
  • It would be “onerous” to ask RRHA staff to follow up on all offense reports and calls for service; and
  • Given the quality of the people who live in subsidized housing, RRHA can’t be expected to do much better.

To judge from their response to the current murder rate, and the shooting of the policeman by a trespasser who was living at RRHA, their indifferent attitude and the soft bigotry of their low expectations have not improved.

It is clear that RRHA is not serious about controlling its property.  City Council is quiescent.  The Commonwealth’s Attorney is not prosecuting the RRHA Board for maintaining the nuisance.  Your tax dollars at “work.”