IHA reports decrease in crime in public housing

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.--  After more than a year of double-digit increases at some of its largest properties, the Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA) is reporting consistent and dramatic double-digit decreases in crime in public housing.

Compared to November of 2018, crime has decreased from 8%-25% at four of IHA’s largest public housing properties while showing a stubborn increase of 3% at the Hawthorne Apartments where Velrae Morgan lives.

“I haven’t heard anybody getting broke in except once last year or two since I been here,” said Morgan, who reports that gunfire is another story.

“I seen a gun battle the other day,” she said. “Somebody got shot in the gut. I be in my room and I just hear 'bang bang bang bang bang.' I don’t know if it’s a big gun or a little gun. It's just loud. It seems like it come from the back all the time.”

IHA Executive Director John Hall said since he came on board in early March, he’s made a priority of enhancing the agency’s surveillance camera system and linking it up with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).

“We have 99% functionality of all of our cameras at all times,” he said, adding that improved screening processes and enforcement of rules have targeted felons and unauthorized residents violating lease agreements.

“My charge to staff has been we have to enforce our lease and people want to live in a safe environment,” said Hall. “If there are unauthorized residents there, if there’s evidence of criminal activities, such as felony convictions of people who are even approved to live on our sites, we do that check annually.”

Morgan said she has seen several non-approved residents living at Hawthorne.

“I think the management should stick to their guns, like if they have a violent crime happen at that apartment, they need to just take and get them out and they just don’t sometimes. They have a bad crime going on at their house and they’re still living here. It makes other people think, ‘Well, they did it, they getting away with it, we can too,’” said Morgan.

Hawthorne was one of two IHA apartment complexes that barely passed federal inspections this past summer which included cleanup of the properties, improved maintenance and vacancy turnarounds and better recordkeeping.

Hall has also tackled IHA’s bloated and outdated waiting list which once boasted approximately 150,000 names.

IHA has sent letters to approximately 20,000 pre-screened applicants for public housing assistance to attend sessions at the Indiana Convention Center next week to begin the paperwork process that could result in housing vouchers and approval in the year to come.

Those meetings will be held Monday, Dec. 2, through Wednesday, Dec. 4, in Exhibit Hall A from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Applicants were pre-selected and must bring the following documents according to IHA’s invitation:

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Already, Hall has added 1000 new Section 8 applicants to IHA’s rolls this year and cut into IHA’s occupancy rate which has hovered at 90%, far below federal guidelines.

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