More apartment complexes will seek to be ‘certified’ safe

RELEASED March 28, 2013
For more information contact: Julaine Harris, (901) 678-1391 / [email protected]

MEMPHIS, TN – Safeways, a pilot project launched in 2007 to make residents of Memphis and Shelby County apartment communities safer through multiple crime prevention and quality of life strategies, will expand into a stand-alone nonprofit agency.

The locally-developed Safeways research-driven model, which includes a certification process for apartment complexes, promotes intervention in and around multiple residential properties where crime, blight and public safety problems exist. The program provides training and technical assistance to property managers and owners. Apartment communities that meet and exceed designated standards for crime prevention and resident safety become “Safeways Certified.”

A three-year donation totaling $450,000 from the Plough Foundation was the cornerstone gift establishing the new organization. Additional support is being provided by the Memphis Gun Down Initiative. Private sector partners will provide funding through per-unit fees contributed by earning the certification.

Initially, Safeways has identified 15 apartment communities willing to adhere to basic safety steps. The properties are managed by LEDIC, ALCO Management and Makowsky, Ringel and Greenberg (MRG). Most are located in neighborhoods in Frayser, southeast Memphis, the Whitehaven-airport area, and near the University of Memphis.

Safeways is an important strategy in the Memphis Fast Forward and Memphis Shelby Crime Commission’s Operation: Safe Community plan.

“Goal Number Three of our five-year plan to reduce crime calls for reducing blight, problem properties and crime in apartment complexes,” said Michelle Fowlkes, executive director of the Crime Commission. “The generous grant from the Plough Foundation recognizes the importance of that goal and the impact it has on public safety for this community.”

Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. commented, “Addressing quality of life issues in our apartment communities is a critical component in the comprehensive Memphis Gun Down plan. This is why we welcomed the opportunity to fund this valuable initiative through Memphis Gun Down.” At present, the Memphis Gun Down effort has committed $150,000 toward the implementation of Safeways.

Phyllis Betts, a Safeways founder and director of the University of Memphis Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action (CBANA), said, “We have carefully developed data-driven statistical standards in order to have a safety threshold. This creates clear performance measurements for those who own and manage apartment communities.”

Richard Janikowski, director of the Center for Community Criminology and Research at the University and another founder, explained that growing from a project to an agency will fulltime staff and ongoing funds “will make it possible to replicate the successes that components of Safeways have shown so far to apartment neighborhoods all across the city, ensuring maximum effectiveness.”

SAFEWAYS begins with two full-time staff members, including Julaine Harris, executive director. She has been a consultant and Safeways coordinator with CBANA. The staff will grow over the coming weeks, Harris said.

Pierce Ledbetter, president and CEO of LEDIC Management Group and also a founding Safeways partner, explained that private sector buy-in is critical to long-term sustainability. “Offering the Safeways certification is key to obtaining the buy-ins,” he said.

Another private sector pilot partner, Jimmy Ringel, COO of MRG, said he believes that the partnership “is just good business practice. We’re proud to be taking part in Safeways.” ALCO President Robert Hyde added, “As a strong proponent of affordable housing, Safeways shares our vision to build the community.”

Today the organization announced new Safeways participants plus a first round of Safeways Certified Properties in the city at a press conference held at Leadership Memphis offices on South Main Street downtown. Speakers included Mayor Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell; Tennessee Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons, who also chairs Operation: Safe Community; Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich; Barbara Jacobs, program director of the Plough Foundation; Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong; and Betts, Harris and Ledbetter.

About Safeways
Safeways offers education and training to promote community safety and quality of life interventions in and around apartment properties. Safeways also provides enhanced support and technical assistance for “Safeways Certified” properties that meet or exceed designated standards for crime prevention and resident safety.

Initial Certified Safeways Properties ALCO-managed properties include Greenbriar Apartments, Pershing Park Apartments, Saints Court, Breezy Point and Rolling Hills. LEDIC-managed properties are Centennial Gardens, Hillcrest Apartments, Autumn Ridge Apartments, The Posts, Millcreek and Fieldstone. MRG-managed properties are Casa del Ray, University Highlands, Eton Square and The Ellington.

Safeways Website Launched A new website detailing the Safeways program, including its collaborative work with partners and listing properties that are Safeways Certified, went live today at A Facebook page will follow.