Crime Free Housing program new to Red Deer

At the corner of Gaetz Ave. and 49th St. is a plain building that now boasts a title claimed only by one other apartment in Alberta.

The River Valley Apartments are a part of the City of Red Deer’s crime-free multi-housing pilot project. All tenants are required to sign, as a part of the lease, an agreement stating that they will live a crime-free lifestyle as a tenant of the building.

There are 71 units in the apartment building that were available starting in April of this year.

Dean Scott, crime prevention coordinator with the City, said the idea started in the United States in areas that were large centres for crime including drug trafficking.

“The project was successful and expanded from there into more of the United States and now Canada in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario,” said Scott.

Scott works alongside Red Deer City RCMP Cpl. Kathe Deheer as crime prevention coordinators in Red Deer.

The basic first step to the crime-free housing program was the lease addendum that tenants signed. Deheer explained that a big part of the program is tenants working together to keep unwanted visitors out of the building.

“This is a community and everybody that lives here has a vested interest in the success of the community, so instead of moving out we are asking people to work together and do something about it,” said Deheer.

If things are suspicious or if crime is being noticeably committed, tenants are asked to call the building manager, landlord, or RCMP.

“You have a say as to what goes on in your community. If we want change, then you have to do something. Your job as a tenant is to watch out.”

Many of the tenants of the building were in attendance at the Safety Social earlier this week as well as building manager Bill Murphy and landlord Seth Schalk.

Near the end of the meeting some tenants discussed, and signed up for, a group similar to neighbourhood watch.

“It’s a great idea to get to know your neighbours, talk about the issues you’re having and take them to Bill and Seth,” said Deheer.

Scott and Deheer work closely and have direct contact with Schalk and Murphy so tenants were assured that their concerns would be addressed in a timely manner and that the success of the project is largely based on their ability to work together.