Resident security concerns were a focus of discussion this week during a meeting of the board of the Housing Authority of the County of Warren.
Board Chair Mike Lewis and Board Member Gerald Carlson both noted they have been approached by authority tenants with concerns over security due to other tenants.
"Everyone we rent to has been screened," Authority Executive Director Tonya Mitchell-Weston said. "They've passed a criminal background check."
Board members and authority staff agreed there is a drop-off in social service attention once clients have been placed in public housing.
"People are working very hard to get tenants in here," Mitchell-Weston said. "Sometimes, once they're in, there's no follow-up. It can be a problem. Especially with people transitioning directly from a care facility."
"We've addressed this before," Lewis noted.
Authority Treasurer Stacey Kranak suggested offering office space to be leased by organizations with clients at authority properties could be a future solution.
It was also announced Conewango Township Police are prepared to move forward with a police substation at the authority's Riverview Terrace property if the authority board approved the station.
Lewis expressed concern over how it would look to potential renters knowing the property had police present on-site.
"We let them (renters) know it's to keep the riff-raff out, not because it's already there," Mitchell-Weston said.
The board approved moving forward with the substation and agreed to provide a radio at a cost of approximately $500. The radio will be the only contribution by the authority they do not already have on hand.
Board members approved allowing authority staff to work out an alternate scheduling system. Under an alternate system, staff would still work the same number of hours each pay period, but would not necessarily work a traditional five days at eight hours each. Any new system would maintain the authority's current office hours.
Board members were apprised garbage service at authority properties was being handled by a new driver who is crushing dumpsters. Pick-up service at the properties is handled by Veolia Environmental Services but the actual dumpsters are owned by the authority. According to authority staff, a representative of Veolia told them dumpster damage was considered "maintenance" and was the authority's responsibility. It was also noted garbage pick-up has been reduced from twice to once each week. Cassella Resource Solutions, who handles former Jones-Carroll accounts in Warren County, was contacted about taking over the contract. The authority's contract with Veolia expires in November.
Board vacancies were an issue. The board has had at least one vacancy since April of this year and it was announced a number of authority property residents were interested in the position. Under United States Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines the authority board is required to have at least one resident member. Board Vice-Chair Jolene Weaver is currently an authority property resident.
"If we don't go this route (with a resident)," Lewis said. "I think we need to work on finding someone to fill the position."
Board members are recommended by the authority board, but appointed by the Warren County Commissioners.
Mitchell-Weston announced an ad for legal counsel concerning ongoing litigation over assessment values at Canterbury Court was not answered by any local firms.