City, rental property owners team up to create more secure housing for students

Detective Vincent Glenn, crime prevention officer Kandy Knowles and Baylor police officer Scott Curry present Oso Verde apartments with their new Crime Free Multi-Housing program sign which the complex received for completing the crime free housing training. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

The Waco Crime Free Multi-Housing Program is an initiative that helps provide peace of mind and safety for Waco area rental housing.

The program was implemented to help reduce criminal activity in communities and helps create a partnership between police and owners of rental properties.

The Waco Crime Free Multi-Housing Program is part of the international Crime Free Association. Crime prevention officer Kandy Knowles said Baylor is the only university in the nation to have a program like this with student housing.

“The main goal is getting tenants educated and getting them to work together,” said Waco detective Vincent Glenn. “You cannot eliminate crime, but you can reduce it.”

A three-phase system is used to certify a rental property to be part of the program.

Phase one is an eight-hour training program for property owners, management, leasing staff, maintenance crews and other people in the management office.

Phase two consists of a Crime Prevention through Environmental Design inspection. The requirements for this inspection are Texas and Waco codes of ordinance compliance, building address visibility, security lighting, proper trimming of shrubbery and trees, front doors peep holes, dead bolt locks on exterior doors, strike plates, slide devices on windows and secondary locking devices on ground level windows.

The third phase is for the rental property to host a safety social. The Baylor Police Department will conduct the social and give information about general safety principles and crime prevention.

“The Baylor website has a list of places that are part of the crime-free program,” said Baylor police officer Scott Curry. “If your place is not on the list it’s not crime free. That list is updating all the time. It never stops.”

The program believes there are three ways criminal activity comes into a rental community: through criminals living there, criminals visiting friends there and criminals going to the property to commit crimes.

Curry said he has reviewed the crime statistics over the past few years and all crime statistics in Waco are on the decline.

The program requires rental property managers to complete background check all tenants and for property managers to create a lease addendum that would give the property managers power to evict a tenant if one is found guilty of a crime.

Rental properties that are not part of the program are not allowed to solicit students. At Baylor’s annual housing fair, only properties that are part of the program are allowed to be there and distribute brochures and information to students.

All properties that are certified in the program receive a daily email that tells them about any incidents that happened on any crime-free property. This is to help notice patterns and keep everyone informed. The police department also works with the program by alerting the property manager if arrest one of their tenants.

“We want what is best and what is safe for students,” said Kandy Knowles, “And we want them to have multiple choices of places to live.”