Orlando and Orange County Eliminate Crime-Free Housing Programs

Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer

Recently, Orlando and Orange County eliminated their crime-free housing programs after concerns and critiques from civil rights activists. Originally enacted to reduce drug and violent crimes in apartment complexes, crime-free housing initiatives continued to be critiqued for the ways they disproportionately affect minority communities. 

If you feel like you’ve been wrongfully evicted from your apartment, it’s a good idea to seek legal representation from a trusted attorney. An experienced lawyer will ensure your rights are protected. Here is some important information to know on crime-free housing in Florida and the steps some communities are taking to end these programs. 

What Is Crime-Free Housing?

Crime-free housing programs are local laws or initiatives that either encourage or require landlords of private properties to evict tenants who have had contact or conflict with the criminal legal system. Some programs also encourage landlords to deny housing to any tenants with a criminal record. These programs punish tenants if they or any guests visiting their home engage in certain behaviors or have frequent communications with the police. In accordance with these laws, landlords are encouraged and sometimes forced to evict tenants in situations where the police respond to a certain address too frequently. 

While these local programs were enacted with the goal of curbing crime, they have had many negative repercussions. Most significantly, they result in the exclusion of racial minorities and the promotion of racial segregation across a city’s neighborhoods and communities. The vagueness of these laws and programs lends itself to extremely problematic issues. For example, the laws allow a police department to decide whether the tenant’s criminal history is significant enough to disqualify them from rental housing. This means even if a tenant’s criminal activity is alleged or non-violent, a police officer can still encourage the landlord to have the tenant evicted. 

Orlando and Orange County End Crime-Free Housing Programs

Recently, the Orland police department and the Orange County Sheriff’s office have taken steps to end their crime-free housing programs. Officials from these counties have placed their programs on hold and met with community leaders and activists to discuss changes. The new programs enacted in these counties advised landlords on how to keep their properties safe with features such as better lighting, locks, and altering landscaping to optimize lines of sight. Under new initiatives, landlords will no longer automatically be notified of police calls and activity on their properties. However, they can still request these reports 

How Crime-Free Housing Programs Hurt Communities 

While crime-free housing initiatives were created with the goal of enhancing the safety of rental properties, their wide-spread adoption have created a host of civil rights repercussions. There a number of ways that these programs harm communities but some of the most notable include: 

  • They increase racial segregation. Ultimately, these programs use any form of contact with the criminal legal system as a way to further exclusion and racial segregation. As a result individuals—disproportionately minorities—with criminal system contacts are forced to find separate housing. 
  • They bring harmful police bias into the housing market. People of color and minorities are disproportionately surveilled, stopped, and admonished by the police. Crime-free housing has allowed these harmful biases to infiltrate the private housing market, having an even larger impact and influence. 
  • They punish people for alleged and minor “criminal activity.” The vague and overly-inclusive language used in their initiatives to categorize crime ends up punishing many people who have not engaged in criminal activities and or have not had significant contact with the criminal legal system. 

If you feel like you are being wrongfully targeted by the criminal legal system or have unfairly been evicted from your home, it’s essential to take legal action. 

Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

While enacted with good intentions, crime-free housing programs have caused lots of issues for minority communities. If you feel like you are wrongfully being targeted by the police or have recently been evicted from a crime-free rental property, it’s essential to understand your rights. Working with a skilled criminal defense attorney is the best way to protect yourself and ensure your rights are upheld. 

At The Umansky Law Firm, our criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to fighting for your rights. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team has the skills and expertise to develop a strong defense for your case. To schedule a free consultation, call (407) 228-3838 or complete an online contact form for a free consultation.