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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Criminal Background Checks

I've been curious about the crime on my side of Houston (the far west), and whether we've been having problems I'm not hearing about - so earlier this week, I went out and about to talk to several apartment complex managers. Found an interesting little tidbit:

Every manager I spoke with said they screen all potential residents over the age of 18 for criminal records. If someone has a felony conviction – ever – they deny the application. Sounds pretty straightforward on the surface.

Turns out that in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, as hundreds of thousands of people were trying to find housing accommodations, the Criminal Background Check(CBC) website overloaded and stopped responding to Louisiana requests. For most of September, there was no way to know who was a felon and who was not. It wasn't until about six weeks after the queries were made that fax results starting coming in.

Furthermore - while the CBC for other states runs a statewide check, Louisiana requires that a Parish be specified... and charges for each Parish query. Obviously, that would limit how carefully apartments screened.

Managers were faced with limited choices: deny everyone because they couldn’t check, or let everyone in (for the same reason).

So…. Thinking about those crime-ridden complexes that dot Houston’s cityscape. Which choice do you think they went with?

I’ve read many forum dialogues and posts online, where people are wondering how felons slipped through the “cracks”. Now ya know.


  • At 9:34 PM, Blogger Tim said;

    Wow, that's an amazing bit of detective work. I can imagine a lot of people just opened up their doors to evacuees from New Orleans with little question. It's very disappointing to think that some of the people who were so generous and open are now left hurt and regretful.

    Keep up the good work!


  • At 6:34 AM, Blogger Polimom said;

    I feel worst for the evacuees who are now in those locations who had no idea, in the chaos of September, what they were getting into. Couples, families with kids, the elderly... they all needed a place to live, and even had there been NO criminally-inclined people coming in with the influx, those complexes were not good places to be.

    Yes, there are people in Houston who are now regretting their generosity, but Houston is an enormous and resourceful city. Happily, everybody I spoke to on my side of town was still supportive and working with the people who have lost everything, helping them make the transition.

  • At 9:25 PM, Blogger blueshead said;

    good luck..finally our crime in new orleans is down.. please keep 'em.. ;)

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