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.