published Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

3 days and out

After two shootings at public housing sites left four men wounded, officials with the Chattanooga Housing Authority have vowed to crack down on crime.

Residents can be evicted in as little as three days if they — or even visitors to their home — commit an offense on CHA property.

And instead of being able to appeal the eviction to the CHA, residents must take their appeals to court.

The crackdown may already be under way. Since Jan. 1, 69 residents have been given eviction notices, according to figures provided Friday by the housing authority. Twenty-one notices were directly related to criminal activity, the CHA said.

An agency representative said Friday she couldn’t determine whether either of those figures was higher or lower than normal, nor could she provide eviction figures from last year.

CHA board Chairman Eddie Holmes acknowledged that the agency’s eviction policy — which already included the three-day notice and visitors stipulations — hasn’t always been strictly enforced in the past. Even when it was used, housing officials sometimes made exceptions when residents appealed, he said.

“But we started to see the same people coming back and forth, back and forth, saying, ‘I can’t control Johnny’ or ‘I can’t control my uncle,’” Holmes said. “So now we’re saying if anything happens on your property, you’re going to be held accountable for that. We will not be conducting hearings for you to give us an excuse.”

He said a harder line is necessary now to protect the thousands of residents who live on the public housing sites.

Former College Hill Courts resident association president Doris Conner agreed on the need for stricter enforcement.

“The housing authority has been too lenient,” she said. “A lot of people coming in here are gangbangers, troublemakers, and they don’t care about the person living in the apartment getting kicked out.”

But East Lake Courts resident Dorothy Roberts said public housing police already harass residents when they patrol.

“You can’t sit on your porch because the police is in your yard talking crazy to you,” Roberts said.

The two March shootings that led to the stricter enforcement policy both happened at College Hill Courts.

On March 6, 22-year-old Darrell Paris was shot in the stomach with a 16-gauge sawed-off shotgun inside an apartment. On March 21, 22-year-old Marcel Hawthorne, 20-year-old Eric McMath and 18-year-old Jermichael Powell were shot in what police said was a domestic incident.

Chattanooga police officer Tetzel Tillery, who patrols the East Lake Courts area, said many people who commit crimes in public housing don’t even live there.

“More than half the guys don’t live in the development,” he said. “They have girlfriends or grandmothers who live in the development.”

CHA is too understaffed to monitor who lives in the sites, compared to whose name is on the lease, Tillery said.

Felix Vess, CHA’s chief of public safety, estimated that 75 percent of the crime at public housing sites is committed by nonresidents.

No matter who is committing the crimes, Holmes said, the amount of notice given before eviction will depend on the offense. Any offense involving violence or drugs could now result in just three days’ notice before a resident must vacate, he said.

“What we’re saying is that you signed the lease,” said Holmes. “You are the responsible person for that household so you need to take care of that household and that surrounding property.

“If you can’t do that, then you probably need to find somewhere else to stay.”

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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champ1 said...

That's the way it works at every other community in this country (it's called a crime-free/drug-free addendum and its signed along with the resident lease). It's about time the CHA stepped into the 21st century. I believe that what they will find is that many of their residents will no longer qualify and, as a result, there will be no need for so much public housing in this city.

April 3, 2011 at 1:06 a.m.
FreedomJournal said...


Greetings Brethren,

Peace be unto you. I remember earlier times when I saw for certain logic in the older and the wise. I still see this principle however it is lost among many of the young.

Meanwhile as the days pass the Hip-Hop generation has hopped on wrong heads as their heads could be used as mop heads.

Authority & Respect Blown Away With The Wind

Loose irresponsible sand blows in a ill formed wind as evil spirits also ride the air waves. Maturity frowns as young mistakes are repeated and never caught up as experiences seen once.

Pride and joy in things common abound as the way of the world embrace the young and old like a python wrapped around its prey. The night life is all night and day.

The day is for sleeping and jobs are for the suckers as the young and restless live as the lumpen proletariat the vampires, blood-suckers and parasites of society. But some do flirt with the work ethic.

However this does not breed responsibility toward self nor to the father and mother. Sadly they come in disrespect for all things normal. I see them casting ungrateful stares at duty and sacrifice for the helpless young is not coveted.

The selfish person is surely a foolish person because who would rob those who nursed the young and bathed and feed the naked and the hungry.

April 3, 2011 at 12:32 p.m.
chioK_V said...

@“What we’re saying is that you signed the lease,” said Holmes. “You are the responsible person for that household so you need to take care of that household and that surrounding property.

Hey! Eddie, old boy ___Why don't you do away with those crooked cops y'all hired other LE agencies got rid of? That would elminate at lot of the problems in public housing. You know the ones who keep strife and division going on among the tenants. The ones who have their little honeys statched away in public housing, allowing them to commit illegal activities.

Drugs and drug abuse take place in some of the most affluent communities and households in Chattanooga and every community. Heck! As we've learned, drugs and other substance abuse are problems even in many of the LE households.

You've forgotten your original purpose haven't you? That of being a champion for the poor and abused, fighting against injustices.

April 3, 2011 at 2:10 p.m.
Haiku said...

I hope someone with the intellect and knowledge of rules of law and respect for the Constitution will take up the cause of these poor individuals. As a Civil Rights icon who is aware of abuse of the under-class, I'd think Mr. Holmes would be their champion and not their albatross. There can't be one rule of law for everyone else, then stricter rules and laws for others simply because they're poor. Other civil and human rights organizations have fought and won against similar injustices in other states. Hopefully, the people will organize and stand up for their rights in your town as well.

Citizens who don't live in public housing have friends and family who do. Basically, what the housing authority is suggesting is to fence these tenants in and isolate them from the general population. Where no one, not even family members will be able to visit.

Issue should also be taken with the idea that if something happens in your yard you, the tenant, can be evicted. Someone you may not even know can come onto your yard and create a disturbance. You, the tenant, may not even be aware or at home at the time the disturbance takes place, but you can still be held liable? That makes no sense.

April 3, 2011 at 3:04 p.m.
xyzyra said...

This seems to be one of those situations where the right hand, housing authority, apparently doesn't know all that it's left hand, housing authority police, are up to. That alone should be concern if they, housing authority police, are to remain in operation.

Chattanooga Housing Authority police are stampling all over tenants constitutional rights. They get by with it because the tenants are poor and by use of fear tactics, threats and intimidation. Many tenants fear being evicted on trumped up charges by housing authority police officers if they dare file a complaint. Not that there is any true and direct method to file a complaint, unless it's against a fellow tenant.

The housing authority police can't seem to police itself, let alone keeping the tenants safe. As they create a lot of the problems themselves.

Example: 1. One of their officers seems to be MIA. No one can find him to serve a murder warrant against him. Is the housing authority police hiding him out somewhere? Keeping a low profile, so to speak? To my understanding there is no statute of limitations on a murder charge.

  1. Last year one of your housing authority police officers is said to have struck a child in his vehicle at a local public housing site. Nothing was recorded or reported on that matter by officer nor his superior.

  2. Prior to that, and at another site, tenants say a woman's house was bomb rushed, possibly using a flash-bang grenade or some other type of flammable device, because one of the housing authority officcers reported seeing a suspect at the back door of the residence. Apparently no one sought to investigate to make sure no children were in danger. When the apartment was rushed with that flammable device, it set the apartment on fire and the children were trapped in an upstairs bedroom. If not for a neighbor climbing through and upstairs window, at least one of the children, who panic and froze, would possibly have not made it out alive.

  3. They are stopping people without probabl cause. They are going into tenants' homes without a search warrant. All this goes against the very fabric of this nation and makes a mockery of the Constitution of the U.S. Regardless if the individual is of a different class and race. You can't have one law for the general population and another one for the poor. Isn't that what all the Civil rights marchings and protests were about in the '60s and prior? I'd think, Eddie Holmes, of all people would take issue with such abuses of power.

Housing Authority police make a mockery of the profession of policing and that motto "To Serve And Protect"___"Let None Live In Fear!"

April 4, 2011 at 10:10 a.m.
Haiku said...

Prior to the mid 1970s and part '80s tenants living in public housing were fully intact with that complete family unit, husband/wife and children. It was rare to see a single parent(usually a woman) trying to raise a family alone. Then there came in the government a new breed of politicians, as is taking place today. They decided the women could stay as long as there were no men living in the home. Hence, the now over abundance of single parents, primarily women, living in public housing trying to raise children alone.

The solution? Since in the pass the government provided incentives to run the men out, why not provide incentives to bring them back? Rather than evicting tenants over minor or trumped up offenses where you're helping to create another endless cycle of homelessness, desperation and suffering why not do more to make all people inclusive? Rather than punishing the men for not being there and running others off who are, reward the ones who are at least trying. You don't need police who are only going create and cause more chaos, you just need a different perspective, goal, frame of mind and plan.

Finally, remember too, when you evict one person, you evict the entire family. That would include any and all children, creating a rift that hurts their education, ability to concentrate in school. Also, the stress of constantly not knowing where you're going to lay your head night after night or even if you'll be able to lay your head anywhere at all, contributes greatly to the cyle of outbursts of violence.

April 4, 2011 at 12:09 p.m.
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