*After the Tampa Bay Times exposed how local officers are informing landlords about the arrests of tenants – leading to evictions – Mayor Jane Castor announced Saturday that the city will reform its Crime-Free housing program.
Here’s more from Tampa Bay Times:
The move comes four days after a Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed how officers encouraged landlords to evict tenants based on arrests, including some where charges were later dropped. The investigation was published online Wednesday at Tampabay.com.
The program was aimed at stamping out drug and gang crime in apartment complexes. But the Times investigation found that police officers were reporting tenants to their landlords after arrests for misdemeanor crimes, the arrest of juveniles and arrests that happened elsewhere in the city.
Per the report, 90 percent of the 1,100 people targeted by the program were Black tenants.
“No Tampa resident should have to live where they fear to let their kids play outside, and this voluntary program has improved the safety and quality of life for tens of thousands of people,” Castor said in a statement.
Per the report, under the newly reformed Crime-Free housing program, the city will inform landlords only about “certain serious drug and violent felonies.”
When the police department launched the program, Castor defended it when she was chief. She agreed to the changes after meeting with a coalition of civil rights groups who called for an end to the program. The reform efforts also had the support of City Council Chairman Orlando Gudes and state Rep. Dianne Hart.
“I really appreciate the leadership and collaboration from Chairman Gudes and Rep. Hart to help us improve and continue this program that is a benefit to our entire community,” Castor added.
Under the announced changes, landlords will be notified only about arrests that happen on their properties.