Tampa 'Crime Free Multi-Housing' Program Under Investigation By The DOJ

The Department of Justice is investigating the program to ensure it did not violate the Fair Housing Act. The program was replaced by S.A.F.E in December 2021.

TAMPA, Fla. — Editorial note: The attached video is from September 2021.

The Tampa Police Department’s “Crime Free Multi-Housing” program is under investigation by the Department of Justice. The program, which was replaced by Tampa S.A.F.E (Safety Awareness for Everyone) in December 2021, had police alerting landlords to crimes allegedly committed by their tenants.

The DOJ probe follows a lengthy Tampa Bay Times investigation that found officers encouraged landlords to evict tenants – including ones whose charges were ultimately dropped. The Times also reported how the program primary impacted predominantly Black and Brown communities. 

The new Tampa S.A.F.E. program takes a passive approach at encouraging “crime-free” housing by teaching landlords how to search arrest records, rather than have police inform them of their tenants’ arrests directly. 

According to the City of Tampa, “The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated an investigation of the old Crime Free initiative to ensure that that program did not violate the Fair Housing Act by making unavailable or denying housing units. The Justice Department has acknowledged that the City of Tampa terminated the Crime Free initiative before its review began.”

The results of the DOJ’s review have not yet been released. 

The city says, while it was implied in media reports that hundreds of evictions had occurred as a results of this program, Tampa’s city attorney found, “Of the 529 notifications, only eight evictions were filed and only four were based on criminal activity and non-payment of rent.”

NAACP President Hillsborough Branch Yevette Lewis says both the old and new programs are problematic. She says targeting housing not only hurts those that commit crimes but entire family units.

Lewis questioned, “Landlords have the right to that information, but do they have the right to evict a whole family for not having done anything?”

She says the programs unfairly target minority communities. 

“We all want to live in a safe community, but you cannot continue to violate someone’s civil rights.” 

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