Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Today I stumbled across a troubling article about how a type of nuisance ordinance I've never heard of - the so called "crime free housing" ordinance - creates some terrible unintended consequences for domestic violence victims. From the article, on the Aljazeera America website:
When Lakisha Briggs’ ex-boyfriend forced his way into her home in June 2012, she faced an impossible dilemma. Although the man had physically assaulted her on several occasions, Briggs knew that if she called the police for help, she and her 3-year-old daughter would likely be thrown out of their subsidized apartment.
Briggs, a 34-year-old mother residing in Norristown, Pennsylvania, found herself in this situation as the result of a city ordinance aimed at reducing “disorderly behavior” in rental housing. The ordinance stipulated that tenants who made three 911 calls in four months could be evicted. Briggs had already received three strikes as the result of emergency calls made during previous attacks by her ex, and the month before the incident, city officials had notified her that further calls would result in her removal from her apartment.
The article details how Briggs suffered a further brutal attack from her ex without calling the police, due to her fear of being evicted. Because a neighbor called 911, ultimately the city of Norristown began eviction proceedings against her. Only the intervention of the ACLU prevented her from losing her home.
The ACLU and the Shriver Center now have the I Am Not a Nuisance campaign to educate local governments about the dangers of these ordinances. And, as a result of Briggs' case, these ordinances are now illegal in Pennsylvania.
Jamie Baker Roskie