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Crime Free Housing a Goal for Hagerstown

"Everybody needs to cooperate, everybody. And that's where the rubber will meet the road so to speak," said manager of Bethel Gardens Apartments, Cathy Santiago.
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - To do thy neighbor as you wish to be done to you: the golden rule. But what if your neighbor is a criminal?

In an effort to promote a safer community, officials in Hagerstown have proposed a crime-free housing program that would give landlords more power to keep crime out of their buildings.

"You cannot single out a particular neighborhood, you can't single out large apartments, or small apartments, large buildings, small buildings, poor or the very rich. You just can't do that, so these programs have to be blanket across the city, and that's a very important part of this program," said Chief Mark Holtzman of the Hagerstown Police Department.

Under the proposed program, landlords would be required to go through a crime-free seminar held by the police.

Some landlords, like Gary Stine, property manager at the Bradford Apartments, have already taken part in a voluntary crime-free multi-housing program, and they say they have had positive results.

"It's actually been great. We've seen an uptick in occupancy, we've seen reduced tenant turnover, increased renewals, reduced calls for police service, not that we had a problem to begin with but we have seen a reduction so it's been a win-win," said Stine.

And the goal is to further the win, and keep communication between the police and landlords open.

"I feel going forward this is a strong step for our community to make, it's going to build a lot stronger neighborhoods, safer neighborhoods," said Chief Holtzman.

It's already got support from the community.

"Everybody needs to cooperate, everybody. And that's where the rubber will meet the road so to speak," said manager of Bethel Gardens Apartments, Cathy Santiago.

Through this program, landlords will have written lease requirements for tenants, and it also will give them a tool to evict someone who damages the crime-free reputation.

This crime free housing ordinance will be on the table again at the next council meeting and could be approved by the end of the year.
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