Safety Improvements, Smoking Policy Discussed at Housing Authority Meeting

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Charlottesville public housing Charlottesville public housing
Charlottesville public housing Charlottesville public housing
Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority is working to improve safety at all of its public housing sites.

At the CRHA’s regular monthly meeting on Monday, February 26, people brought up concerns about trespassing, security, and policies not being enforced.

Since last summer, conversations began between the housing authority and residents about how to strengthen safety and security around the sites. Now, some say more work still needs to be done.

Violence at public housing sites in Charlottesville has those in charge stepping up plans to help curb it. Last September, a 45-year-old was killed after a shooting at the First Street South site – and that’s not the only one that occurred.

“There were outsiders, mainly, showing up to basically party on the property,” says Brandon Collins of the Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents. “Some of our sites get a reputation as being the place to go to cause trouble. We did have shootings and deaths on both of those sites.”

CRHA manages multiple properties in the city.

Collins says there is a new barment policy in place, but is has never been fully enforced. It means that if people who aren’t allowed there come onto a site, they can be charged with trespassing.

A new parking policy is also in place at public housing sites.

“I think there is probably a sense in the community that the police, as usual, have not lived up to the things that they said they would do and oftentimes when they do show up, they come in very heavy-handed and that was not what was discussed with the police department last fall,” says Collins.

Crescent Halls is one of the sites getting upgrades like new security cameras and key fobs to get into the building. That's a step in the right direction, but the housing authority wants to make sure everyone living in public housing in the city feels safe.

“We have to look at different ways in which we can increase - whether it's security or police presence, whether it’s increasing or updating our policies - but we have to make amends to ensure the safety of everyone who lives within our public housing sites and in our city as a whole,” says Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy.

Bellamy says he and the CRHA are going to conduct check-ins with city police to make sure these policies are being enforced.

The housing authority also reviewed its smoke-free community policy at Monday night's meeting. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, all public housings authorities must have such a policy in place no later than July 31, 2018. This policy will limit areas on public housing sites where smoking is allowed, and residents can expect these new rules to be in place starting July 1.

For the 2019 fiscal year, the CRHA has an anticipated revenue of over $7 million and a profit of over $189,000.

Currently, the CRHA has more than $500,000 for improvements in the capital fund plan to help with boiler replacement, kitchen remodeling, appliance upgrades, and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning improvements.

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority plans to have a final version of its budget to present at its March meeting. Bellamy is hoping to get the topic of safety improvement on the agenda as well.

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