Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Should Weapons Be Allowed On HUD Properties?

This subject came to being in the light of I was informed by another resident of Paquin Towers which is a HUD funded Living Facility for the Disabled and Low Income located in Columbia Missouri and operated by the Columbia Housing Authority.

I was informed on the night of 11 29 2010 at a meeting of the Paquin Tower Resident Association by another resident that there was a resident(with no affiliation to any law enforcement agency) who was seen carrying a Side Arm openly on his belt with in the confines of Paquin Tower in the main lobby. To say the least in my 6 years of living at Paquin Tower I was quite surprised as I was always told from the day I moved in that No Weapons were allowed on CHA property. I was informed also this resident has a Concealed Carry Weapons Permit and is carrying this Side Arm due to past incidents of somebody else pointing a gun into his face.

Paquin Towers is a very diverse living community for the Disabled and Low Income but the biggest part of the diversity is the varying degrees of Mental Illness with in the population of over 200 residents plus or minus depending upon occupancy. These varying degrees of Mental Illness include but are not limited to Post Traumataic Stress Disorder(PTSD),Anxiety, Depression,Paranoid Issues and more. Paquin Tower is considered as a Safe Sanctuary Facility of sorts by it's residents due to it is under HUD Guidelines and has On Site Management Team,On Site Maintenance Staff,a Security Staff plus the Columbia Police Department handling calls in the facility too.

Paquin Tower is also serviced by many Behavioural Health Agencies with in the Boone Country Missouri area and many In Home Health Care agencies as well who come and go daily with in the confines of Paquin Tower. Paquin Tower also has those on Probation or Parole with in it's confines as well although no other residents outside of the CHA Staff know whom they might be. Paquin Tower also has those in varying stages of rehabilitation at one level or another for various reasons.

I am all for people's rights until it infringes upon the rights of the Disabled and especially the Mentally Ill to live in a safe and trouble free environment which now this Side Arm Carrying Issue or any Gun Issue brings to light. The worry by the Mentally Ill Residents and Disability Advocates with in Paquin Tower. I do not feel this view point is out of line in any way of discrimination or prejudice of any kind as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act but in this issue we must look at the greater good of all and not just the rights of one individual and especially when it relates to potential of a resident with a Mental Illness to relapse back into their Mental Illness due to the knowledge of an unsafe living environment which a resident carring a Side Arm openly can present.

HUD does not allow a lot of things and activities on it's properties such as Convicted Sexual Offenders,All Illegal Drugs and many more things and CHA according to their own Guidelines does not allow these things as well plus more but the carrying of a Side Arm is allowed and openly and a resident can have a Side Arm or Guns with in their possession in their units?

Also the Housing Manager Penny Harrington said openly at this Resident Association Meeting that yes anybody in the building could own a fire arm if they so choose to even though it would bring discomfort to those who are against this for varying reasons of concern for the Mentally Ill population with in Paquin Tower.

I am sorry this just does not sound right to me nor to other concerned residents with in Paquin Tower.

As it stands as of this post this is the policy of the Columbia Housing Authority and obviously HUD itself or CHA could not operate in this manner allowing this issue of a resident being allowed to own and carry a Side Arm openly with in one of it's facilities.

I and others do not like this policy as it stands and are now looking at avenues to change this policy so that No Weapons ie: Side Arms, shouldered fire arms etc are allowed on any HUD Funded Properties anywhere starting with the Columbia Housing Authority in Columbia Missouri and working for the safety of all risk populations who reside on HUD Properties and for all of those Behavioural Health Agency Workers and In Home Health Care Workers who frequent HUD Properties servicing their respective clients.

What I ask of all of you reading this are sme simple things to help this cause:

1: Contact your nearest Housing and Urban Development Office and let your concern be known in this issue. http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/contact

2: Contact the Housing Authority in your area and let them know your concern in this issue in Columbia Missouri and ask them what their policy says and allows or does not allow. Be informed that is your right so you can help inform others and advocate for change if it is needed.

3: Contact Fair Housing and let them know of your concern.

4: Contact your local Disability Advocates and Agencies in your area and let them know of this issue that could effect others with Mental Disabilities living in HUD facilities. The more they know the more they can research and all of us can work together for change that helps everybody to feel more secure in their living environment.

5: Contact the Columbia Housing Authority in Columbia Missouri and let them know of your concern in this issue.
201 Switzler Street Columbia, MO.65203
Phone:(573) 443-2556
Fax:(573) 443-0051
TTY:(573) 875-5161
6: Contact your local State Representatives and Senators and ask them how they feel about this issue. Often times your State Representatives do not know and we need to help them to know so they can help us.
7: Contact your local and national Human Rights Commissions to let them know of your concerns. You can do a simple Google search and come up with the one in your area. Ask them questions and ask how they feel on this issue. Ask them to ask questions themselves of HUD and their local Housing Authorities. Here is the contact info of the Human Rights Commission of Columbia Missouri where this issue is about at this time: OCS@GoColumbiaMo.com Please contact them and let them know your concern.
8: The biggest thing is spreading the word on this issue and making others aware of this issue as it pertains to the rights of the Disabled to be able to live in a secure environment with out the fear of Weapons in their living facilities that are not in the hands or possession of properly trained professional Law Enforcement Personnel.
Thank you very much for your time and your understanding in reading all of this article. If we the Disabled Community do not stand up together for our rights nobody else will.
Charles E Dudley Jr Columbia Missouri
Disabilty Advocate
My Blogs:
Columbia Citizens For Disability Advocacy
Concerned Citizens For Disability Advocacy
Citizens For Change In Columbia
We are all in this together to help each other so we can all live in peace and safety with in our respective living communities.

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