- Written by Mike Martin
Unique event raises public awareness about the importance of crime-free rental housing
COLUMBIA, 10/23/12 (Beat Byte) -- Eighty people stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a 25-person room at the former Youzeum, so popular was the first Columbia Landlords Against Crime town hall summit in Dec. 2009.
An almost spontaneous reaction to rising crime related to tenants and rental property, the event drew property managers, real estate agents, renters, neighborhood leaders, City Council members, attorneys, police officers, and dozens of others seeking insights about a simple demographic: Most offenders -- especially repeat and chronic offenders -- are also renters.
Given that statistic, how do landlords balance crime-free housing with profitability? How do property managers balance the need for safety with the need to provide quality housing with fairness and equity? Are landlords liable for the crimes their tenants commit? Should it be required that people stay out of trouble if they expect to rent a home?
Is renting a privilege -- or a right?
The Heart Beat has covered crime-free housing efforts for years. The Landlords Against Crime effort was mostly the brainchild of Amir Ziv, a long-time property manager; Paul Sturtz, then First Ward Councilman; Tim Thomason, who directs the City of Columbia crime free housing program; and Parkade Center manager Ben Gakinya, who has sold investment real estate in Columbia for years.
Then-Columbia Business Times editor David Reed emceed the first and second events, while long-time top law enforcement officer Zim Schwartze emcees this year. This year's summit is scheduled for Thursday at 7 pm, Parkade Center on the Business Loop.