Crime Prevention Programs
On December 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it reached a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the City of Hemet in California, resolving allegations that the city’s Rental Registration, Crime-Free Rental Housing, and Abatement of Chronic Nuisance programs were enacted for discriminatory reasons and targeted minority residents in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 holds that no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Since 2013, the City of Hemet spent approximately one million dollars in Community Development Block Grant funds on the enforcement of programs which imposed penalties on property owners if five or more calls per year were made to law enforcement or to code enforcement for nuisance activity at a property. The terms of the programs lacked an exception for calls from victims of domestic violence or other crimes and did not have safeguards for individuals with disabilities. The programs also required landlords to enforce a crime-free lease addendum mandating immediate eviction for a single act of broadly defined criminal activity. Landlords also were subject to annual inspections, fees, and a registration process that required the property to be kept “free from crime, nuisances and other unwanted behavior.”
Under the agreement, the city will repeal the ordinances that established the programs and create a remediation fund of $200,000 to improve housing conditions for low- or moderate-income households, including by proactively addressing potential code violations. Read the agreement.
Entities that receive federal funding should be aware of additional obligations that apply to them under federal law. The Schindler Law Firm can help guide communities through this complex regulatory scheme.