Housing Authority: Crime low at public housing

Data: Less than 2.5% of arrests throughout New Bedford last year occurred on public housing property

NEW BEDFORD — Of 3,850 arrests in the city last year, 2.36 percent occurred on public housing property, a number that reflects the New Bedford Housing Authority’s concerted effort to reduce crime and provide residents with safe, quality housing, public officials said.
Of 16,532 incidents throughout the city, 494 or 2.99 percent occurred on housing property. Complaints and domestic disturbances made up nearly half of the incidents. Public housing had 91 of 3,850 arrests, 35 of which were for outstanding warrants, according to statistics released by the housing authority.

This article HERE first appeared in the New Bedford Times on February 28, 2016 – by Kathleen McKiernan, kmckiernan@s-t.com

For the leased housing program, or Section 8, 1,721 out of 16,532 or 10.41 percent of incidents involved Section 8 residence. A total 360 of the 3,850 or 9.35 percent of arrests involved a a resident living in a leased house. Data from 2014 was not available, housing officials said, due to a change in software.
Executive Director Steven Beauregard said the data shows the stereotype that public housing harbors violence doesn’t hold true.
“When you look at the statistics, the stats don’t bear that information,” he said.
“We’ve argued we’re an asset to the city because we inspect our units every year that have Section 8. We query them before they come in. They’ve been vetted through our process and the records show that,” Beauregard said.
Security Director Sam Ackah said the results are due to a combination of factors from the housing authority’s community programs, screening process, video surveillance and resident police officers.
“The security department took a concerted effort to install better lighting and fences as a deterrent to crime. It’s a combination of things,” Ackah said.
“How did we get here? It didn’t happen over night,” Beauregard said.
In the last three years, the agency has installed cameras throughout the parking lots and common areas. There are 130 cameras throughout the different developments.
Ackah said many residents welcome the security.
“For every one person who might have a comment, we have three or four who say we need more,” said Ackah. “My office hasn’t received too much pushback.”
Public housing also utilizes resident police officers to help residents connect with the city’s police force. There are nine city police officers who stay in the developments.
“The idea is not a housing authority security force. It’s more about community policing and becoming part of the neighborhood,” said Ackah.
Through its Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency program, Ackah said the agency can reach young children through education and homework help and also by introducing them to police officers early on.
“It gives kids an opportunity to converse with police officers and know they’re not bad guys. They’re human like everyone else,” said Beauregard.

This article HERE first appeared in the New Bedford Times on February 28, 2016 – by Kathleen McKiernan, kmckiernan@s-t.com

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