Crime-Ridden Apartments, Credit Reports and Cops

If you haven't carefully checked the fine print in the city's proposed high-crime apartment ordinance, which the Dallas City Council will take up today, you might have missed this little gem: Apartment owners whose properties become too crime-ridden according to the city's calculations will be required to collect credit reports on future tenants and make those reports available on demand to the cops. Apparently, City Hall has found there's a correlation between credit-worthiness and crime. Unfortunately, it looks like the city has it backward. Bernie Madoff, for example, probably had a way better credit score than anyone forced to rent in one of Dallas' more dangerous apartment houses.

Kathy Carlton, director of government affairs for the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas, knew exactly what we were talking about when we called to ask about the curious credit-report thingy. "We had a lot of questions about that, and police tell us they are not going to be looking at [the credit reports] but want them to be done," she says.

Yeah, we didn't buy that either, and Carlton didn't sound too persuaded herself, but as she points out, it's "a fine line we walk" these days trying to balance individual privacy with security. There's much more in this week's paper version of Unfair Park.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams