Apartment Complex Says Goodbye To Gangs

A year after Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos filed an injunction that prevents known gang members from stepping foot on a north Houston apartment complex. Twelve months later, the owner says the apartments are unrecognizable.

Some say the Haverstock Hills apartments near 59 and Aldine Bender was the most crime ridden complex in all of Harris County. Owner Flynann Janisse has a vivid memory of her first day on the job.

"As we walked the grounds in taking over our ownership, there was a point where we all hit the ground, because shots were fired within the community. It was that bad."

 Bill: "Your first day?

"Our first day."

Bill: "Did you say I’m out of here. I’m done with this?

"We said, oh we’ve got our work cut out for us."

That was almost ten years ago. And today things are much different. But it didn’t happen overnight. In fact most of the change happened this past year after Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos filed a civil injunction against gang members. The injunction basically made it illegal for dozens of known gang members to step foot on the property, or to be near the nearby school and businesses.

This is DA Lykos:

"Every day and every night the children, the residents had the run the gauntlet of dope dealers, pimps and prostitutes. No longer."

Owner Flynann Janisse
Owner Flynann Janisse

Janisse says the address hasn’t changed and the buildings may be the same, but it’s almost like an entirely different apartment complex.

"Now, we’ve brought back that front porch living. There’s a completely different feel to the community. There’s a safety that you feel and you can tell that the resident population feels it too."

In 2009, Haverstock residents called police more than 3,000 times. That averages out to about 8 calls a day. Even now after the gang injunction residents have still made more than a 1,000 calls to police in the past year.

Janisse says there’s still a lot of work to be done and just because the gangs are gone doesn’t mean everyone left is an angel. Still, her company Rainbow Housing is a nonprofit organization that aims to help low income residents, not just collect rent.

"Many of them are at or below poverty level and they need support that’s what we do.  That’s what we do as an organization. We come into communities that have situations that need to be resolved and we preserve the affordable housing piece and we enrich the lives of those that we serve."

If you walk around Haverstock Christmas decorations are on the balconies everywhere you look. A police officer, who’s patrolled the area for years, says that’s something he’s never seen before.