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Local

DeKalb housing bureau clerk used city job during rental search

City of DeKalb Municipal Annex Suite A as seen on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013.
City of DeKalb Municipal Annex Suite A as seen on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013.

DeKALB – The fledgling DeKalb Crime Free Housing Program is searching for a new clerk after its last clerk asked a prospective landlord for a rent reduction while mentioning she worked for the bureau.

DeKalb city leaders declined to comment on their investigation into the Aug. 7 email former clerk Ana Alva sent from her city email address, but said she no longer worked for the city. Alva emailed owners of a three-bedroom home, asking them to ditch their property management company and to lease the property to her, her husband and two small children for $200 less than the listed rent.

“We are working on buying our own home in the future so we would be interested in a 2 year lease if possible,” Alva wrote in the email. “ ... Obviously with me working for the Crime Free Housing Department you will not have to worry about us causing any problems.”

Alva was the second employee hired for the program, which was created last year by city officials who spent two years discussing ways to reduce crime and improve property maintenance. Under the new local laws, the city can prohibit a landlord from renting a certain property if that property is the site of three or more unlawful activities within a one-year period.

Carl Leoni, the crime free housing and inspections coordinator, regularly reviews police call logs and informs landlords of crimes that allegedly happened on their property. The bureau eventually will include three part time inspectors and will be funded through registration fees paid by local landlords.

Alva was hired in late spring, which means her six-month probationary period as a new employee was still underway in August, interim City Manager Rudy Espiritu said.

“She did not pass probation, so we are now in the process of rehiring for her position,” Espiritu said.

Leoni said the email won’t affect his department’s ability to uphold its duty to landlords.

“A problem was found and dealt with, so there should be good will, not bad will [with landlords],” Leoni said. “ ... I think I work hard, and most landlords would agree that I work hard at building bridges and forming relationships, and I expect that we’ll move forward in the same manner.”

Police Chief Gene Lowery cited personnel privacy concerns that restricted him from commenting on the case, but said the program would continue unaffected.

“Regardless of the program, it’s imperative for any department or division to do the best it can. We strive for that on all fronts,” Lowery said. “In this situation there is no room for comment within the structure of the rights of the individual, but I would assure ... the community that the Crime Free Housing Program has done an excellent job in every facet and will continue to do so.”

When reached Monday, Alva declined to comment.

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