Central Texas housing authorities gear up for new mandate - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Central Texas housing authorities gear up for new mandate

(Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) (Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

A new mandate released by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, could soon change the habits of some people who live in public housing. 

Starting as early as next year, public housing apartments will become smoke-free apartments

LeeAnder Dancer and Stephanie Bush are both residents of public housing apartments in Waco. The two, who live in two different apartment complexes, and who both smoke, expressed disbelief about the change. 

"I can't believe this. I just can't believe it," Bush said. "I know it's a lot of people that smokes here...it'll be a good thing for me because that way I won't be around people that smoke." 

Bush said she's trying to stop smoking, so she's hopeful the mandate will help her quit. 

"Somehow, I think it's right and it's wrong," Dancer said. "People pay their rent here, so they ought to be able to do what they want to do...but they own the complex, so maybe they have no smoking for a certain reason."

Milet Hopping is the president and C.E.O. of the Waco Housing Authority. She said the HUD has two main reasons for making public housing smoke-free.

"It's a community health partnership with HUD, in the respect that they see smoking as addictive as well as a health issue," Hopping said. "When somebody smokes over a long periods of time it's very difficult to rent to someone new who may not smoke."

Despite the change, Hopping said the Waco Housing Authority is coming up with a game plan to try to help its residents who smoke. 

"We want to give them ample time to deal with the addiction in order to comply with the federal guidelines," she said. "We've gotten some resources already that have agreed to help our clients if they chose to quit."

The president and CEO. said it is import people who live in public housing stop smoking inside, because those who do not could risk losing their housing.

"We can usually tell when someone's smoking [inside] when we do our monthly and quarterly checks," she said. "The issue that comes forward is whether or not someone can give up their smoking or cigarettes and not be evicted but that is an evict-able offense because it is a federal mandate we have to follow."

Hoping said HUD now has 60-90 days to come up with the parameters for prohibiting smoking inside of public housing.

HUD provided a list of questions and answers for anyone who needs more information.

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