EDITORIAL: Get public housing cleaned

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2002

The early-morning clampdown on drugs, stolen guns and violence in the Reserve Oaks Housing Development was a welcome sight, especially to those neighbors who lived as innocent bystanders every day and night, sometimes sleeping on the floor in an attempt to escape flying bullets.

The adminstrative turmoil that is the St. John the Baptist Housing Authority desperately needs to be resolved as quickly as possible, for the very lives of residents are at stake.

Many residents in public housing have small children, attempting to keep their morally straight. It’s a hard job, one made tougher when they grow up, surrounded by gangsta-wannabes dealing in drugs and stolen goods, driving expensive cars and wearing expensive jewelry and sporting expensive electronics.

Children get the message that material goods are the only measure of success, and that lure traps too many into a life of crime.

Also, elderly residents who simply want to live out the remainder of their days with a due measure of peace and tranquility deserve to have that chance. They should not have to live in daily and nightly fear of a violent death or to fall victim to robbery or other abuse.

Many elements need to come together to clean up public housing here. The sheriff has to stay the course and make the necessary arrests. The court system has to follow through, with tough sentences aimed at keeping criminals away from decent people. The housing authority needs to make frequent surprise inspections of every apartment, perhaps accomanied by a deputy. And the residents who do want a positive change need to stand up and be counted and give the police and housing auhority every assistance they need, especially about information on crime.

Otherwise, public housing cannot be saved, and it will only worsen.