Thursday, January 24, 2008

How Do Other People Deal With Public Housing Crime

One strategy for fixing problems is to look at people who have solved the same problems in the past, and do what they do. While Annapolis looks to San Francisco, Europe, and China to solve global warming problems, it seems to ignore the other jurisdictions that are facing public housing issues.

Apparently, Charleston, South Carolina faces the same problem:
The story of the Gadsden Green public housing evictions is as complex as it
is tragic.

In October, six boys, ages 14 to 16, were arrested for allegedly
confronting people on Wentworth Street late at night in two separate incidents
and demanding money. One of the victims was shot in the hand with a pellet gun.

The six youths were members of five families — all headed by women —
who lived in Gadsden Green. In signing their federal Housing and Urban
Development leases, the women had agreed that if serious criminal charges were
brought against any member of their respective families, the whole family would
be subject to eviction.
Misplaced outrage from a city council member sounds eerily familiar (they even have a President St. near their public housing):
Last Saturday, Charleston City Councilman Wendell Gilliard held a rally for
the five families at Nichols Chapel AME Church, across President Street from
Gadsden Green. About 50 people came out in support of the families.

There was a jarring disconnect Saturday between what I saw in that
small church and the reality of what was going on.

"I chose to work from the church," Gilliard intoned to his
constituents. He went on to invoke the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. He called
the eviction of the five families from public housing a lynching and said the
HUD code that made the eviction possible was a Jim Crow law.

Gilliard shamelessly played the victim card, demanding that HUD put
central air conditioning in Gadsden Green and revamp their eviction
The conclusion arrived upon by this columnist:
Most of the talk last Saturday was about the rights of the five families. I wish
the councilman and his constituents had given some consideration to the rights
of the citizens of Charleston to not be robbed by young punks on the street.
What about our right to live in safety, councilman?
and the 'second' from one of his commenters:
As an MUSC employee, that area west of Rt 17 would be better utilized as
privately-owned, tax generating, student and employee housing for medical
residents, as well as CofC students and faculty. Right now it's a blight which
we avoid for the obvious reasons, and we refer to the highway as the "moat" to
keep out the riff raff. There must be a more suitable location for
this population up the peninsula or in North Chuck. A lot of us used
to be social liberals but we've had it with having to constantly be confronted
by these creeps.
It appears that HUD is perfectly willing to punish residents that commit crimes, so the "it's not Annapolis property" argument fails. That the administration denies that a problem exists is unacceptable, and that we would further allow offenders to live on untaxed property is an abomination. There are things that can be done.


Molly said...

It's a true crime to not want to protect the good, law-abiding citizens who live in the public housing. Who's speaking up for them?

Anonymous said...

Molly's comment is an important one. Too often, ALL of the people in public housing are lumped in with the the few true criminals. Many of the people in public housing are also sick of the crime. And, they're probably also sick of the failed concept of public housing. The way some of our local politicians have "warehoused" people, only to "use" them every four years for their vote is degrading. These politicians do it under the false guise of "help", but they're only out to help themselves "get elected".

Bob McWilliams

Molly said...

Bob, I echo your sentiments. I know there are good people who live in government housing because I was one of those families.

My parents worked incredibly hard to buy their first home and get out of government housing. They are true examples of the American dream and I am so incredibly proud of them.

However we should always look out for the good people living in affordable housing, who are raising good children, who needn't have their lives endangered due to the riff raff living alongside them. Those that are part of the criminal element deserve to be thrown out -- not be protected by sycophants and sophists.

A safe and secure home should not be considered a 'luxury'. All good, law-abiding citizens deserve it. And our local officials should demand this from all who's help we, the taxpayers, provide.

Government housing should always be seen as a temporary stop in someone's life, not a way of life for multiple generations.

Obviously this is something I am incredibly passionate about, and I will see if there are ways that I can help shape and transform government housing in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.