Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said the city's crime-free housing program, which started in November, already has proven itself. But the truth is that this program will always be a work in progress.
Since November, 73 people have been evicted because of arrests or code violations. That illustrates the power the city now wields. The program has the potential to do much good for the city, but also could devolve if the power is misused or abused.
We were glad to see Police Chief Bill Clay draw a clear line this week to protect tenants' rights. When one landlord suggested that the police fill out an incident report every time the police respond to a rental property, Clay said no: "If there was no crime committed on that property, it should not affect their tenancy. ... People have the constitutional right to be left alone."
As the program progresses it should be regularly re-evaluated to prove that enforcement and tenants' rights remain in balance.