Skip to comments.KC public housing smoking ban puts onus on tenants
Posted on 05/22/2014 9:08:50 AM PDT by Drango
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Despite the well-known risks, rates of smoking have remained stubbornly high in Missouri about 25 percent of adults, compared with 18 percent nationally. In Kansas City, Mo., public housing, the problem is even worse, with smokers comprising 40 percent of all tenants.
That high rate is especially disturbing to health advocates because of the high numbers of vulnerable people - particularly children, the disabled and elderly - who live in public housing.
A new policy aims to do away with smoking in city-owned housing, but many residents are not pleased.
On a breezy Friday afternoon at Guinotte Manor, a public housing subdivision northeast of downtown, Kerrie Terry lights a cigarette and fumes over the changes coming to her building.
Its BS, she says. Its against our legal rights as a U.S. citizen.
After a year and a half of planning and asking for comments, the Housing Authority of Kansas City, Mo., made it official earlier this month: A smoking ban both inside and outside Housing Authority properties - will go into effect July 1, affecting more than 5,000 people living in about 1,750 apartments and houses.
People in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, or what used to be called Section 8 Housing, wont be affected. Under that program, residents receive vouchers to live in privately owned buildings. HUD encourages ban on smoking
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development first encouraged local housing authorities to ban smoking in 2009. Today, more than 600, or 20 percent, of housing authorities in the United States have done so, according to Jim Bergman, director of the Smoke-Free Environments Law Project based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Among them are housing authorities in Boston, Detroit and Houston. Bergman says that a decade ago, only two housing authorities in the country had banned smoking.
The LawrenceDouglas County Housing Authority in Kansas banned smoking in January 2011, a move prompted by a fire in a senior high rise.
Weve had some people who it took awhile to get them to respect the policy, says Shannon Oury, executive director of the Lawrence housing authority.
The Lawrence authority has a six-step enforcement system.
Oury says that while a few residents have violated the ban, particularly in the winter, it has not led to any evictions.
LawrenceDouglas County appears to be the only public housing authority in Kansas to have banned smoking.
Edwin Lowndes, executive director of the Kansas City Housing Authority, says the ban there, like the one in Lawrence, was prompted by a fire at Brush Creek Towers, a high-rise designated for seniors and the disabled, in July 2012.
It was a smoker who was smoking in bed who also was on oxygen, Lowndes says. He had respiratory issues. And somehow his apartment caught on fire because of his smoking, and it caused a significant amount of damage to the high rise.
Lowndes says the ban is needed to protect the safety and health of the residents and to shield non-smokers from second-hand smoke. Health advocates also warn of the dangers of third-hand smoke, carcinogenic substances that remain in walls and carpets long after smoking has stopped. The high costs of smoking
The ban is also intended to protect buildings from smoke damage. Lowndes says about a quarter of the residential units change tenants every year, and cleaning up after smokers costs the Housing Authority a lot of money.
If its a light smoker, it might add to our costs about $1,500, just to change it, Lowndes says. But if it were a heavy smoker that lived in that apartment for a considerable time, it might be a total of $5,000 more than what wed ordinarily turn.
He estimates that banning smoking could save the Housing Authority as much as a half a million dollars a year.
Guinotte Manor resident Abdul Salam Ibraheem, an Iraqi refugee who arrived with his family in Kansas City two years ago, supports the ban. He is bothered by the debris of cigarette butts and harmful effects of smoking on children and teenagers in his neighborhood.
I see girls, young girls - 13 years, 14 years smoke, Ibraheen says. I dont like to see cigarettes in (their) hands. This is not good.
Ibraheem is not alone. A Mid-America Regional Council survey shows the majority of the residents favor the ban.
For many residents, however, the issue isnt quitting; its one of personal rights. In Kansas City, public housing residents pay 30 percent of their income for rent and, as Allen explains, the idea of home is an emotional issue
People figure when they got a home, nobody should be able to go into their home and tell them what to do, she says.
Allen Rostron, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, sympathizes with opponents of the ban but says their arguments dont have much of a legal basis.
I can certainly understand why they feel that way, and it is their home, but it is property that belongs to someone else, Rostron says.
Not only is the Housing Authority a property owner, he says, but its also a government agency, which means it has that much more authority to implement a ban.
As for smokers rights, tenants who light up are not entitled to legal protection in the way, say, that members of racial or religious groups might be. Indeed, local civil liberties groups are not challenging the ban.
All the government needs to do to regulate smoking is show that the regulation in question is rational, Rostron says. It really just has to be something that is at least possible or arguable that it could serve a legitimate government interest of some sort.
Guinotte Manor resident Rene Lewis, who supports the smoking ban, believes that many of her smoking neighbors will ignore it.
Were going to have a lot of people who dont want to abide by whats right, she says. A policy with teeth
Lowndes insists the Housing Authority wont be intrusive in enforcing the ban.
Were not going to be knocking on doors and going into apartments, he says.
But the enforcement policy will have teeth, he adds. It will be a three-strikes system, with two warnings followed by the possibility of eviction.
Though the consequences could be severe for low-income residents, that doesnt bother Lewis, who is more concerned about the health of her children than the rights of her smoking neighbors.
I would report them, Lewis says. Because if I have to live by the rules, I feel that you would as well.
Allen says that though she is somewhat concerned her neighbors might be evicted, she is hopeful the Housing Authority will be flexible.
"Can you imagine someone who's on Social Security, Medicaid or probably not getting any income at all, and they started smoking when they were very young," she asks. "And now you're telling them you've got to quit?"
Allen supports the ban but, along with the Resident Council, pushed for a few accommodations to help smokers. One would offer a grace period for some smokers that would last until the end of the year.
The Housing Authority will also connect with residents with low- or no-cost smoking cessation programs. Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center and the Jackson County Health Department are offering programs specifically designed for residents.
I think we can go to Housing and discuss it and see what other solutions we can come up with, Allen says.
They don’t own the house. Too bad for them.
Well I am sure pot smoking and crack smoking will be exempted.
Pushing a law that will cut tax revenue, here in California,
the CARB standards have cut into fuel tax monies so a new tax per mile proposed.
Average cost of pack of cigarettes in MO is $5.87...If they are a pack a day smoker that’s over $2,000 that should be used for rent.
But they are underprivileged and their great, great, great, great grandpa knew a slave. Face it until people pull their kids out of socialist schools and we dismantle that cess pool on the Potomac or go Gault we are stuck with this freaking nonsense.
Why isn’t it surprising that Democrats who are subsidized by the taxpayers smoke more, do more drugs, and commit more crimes than taxpayers do? Another term for public housing is black market housing. It’s a way of investing redistributed money into the local economy. Democrats will be Democrats.
And just where did they all get enough money for 50” flat screen TVs? Oh, don’t remind me!
Why are they putting anuses on these people?
Isn’t that demeaning? They’re already living in low income housing. Leave them some dignity!
“You take the King’s coin, you do the King’s bidding.”
Looks like 5 million people receive some form of Government housing subsidy. If the ratio is the same where 40% smoke...That’s a lot of the King’s coin going to people.
Wow...that’s just ridiculous!
It makes me sad to think that the standard of “work and pay your own way through life” is such a foreign concept these days.
Its BS, she says. Its against our legal rights as a U.S. citizen.
No, it’s not a right..
Get out of the tax payers building. buy your own damn smokes and buy or rent your own damn home that allows you to smoke in it.
Live by the goverment lagress, live by their innane rules....
The fact the building owner is the “government” has no bearing on my position here - the owner has the right to set the guidelines for his/her property.
However, where I do take issue, is this is the same “government” that has forced other property owners to implement these same “guidelines” whether they wish to or not - based on the same bogus information and scare tactics. Third hand smoke? My foot.
SO because they are living on public assistance, we have the right to monitor and ban their personal habits or behaviors? I don’t know, this is a tough one. Maybe because I’m an ex-smoker of 22 years and if I still were I know I’d be totally bent out of shape if some burecrats (sp) started dictating what I could or couldn’t do with my own body. Then again, smoke does do damage to walls and carpet, though nothing a good washing or paint won’t fix. Fires starting? They would need to ban candle-lighting too. This is just one of those things that I can see both sides to but I mostly rebel against it because it’s just another one of those things that reeks of our fall towards communism.
You take the Kings coin, you do the Kings bidding.
I would extend it to: “If you work for the King, voting for the King is a conflict of interest”
“If you take the Kings Coin and do the kings Bidding you are employed by the king.”
[ This is just one of those things that I can see both sides to but I mostly rebel against it because its just another one of those things that reeks of our fall towards communism. ]
I see it as “sauce for the goose of communism”...
Sadly those who are getting free housing are too dumb to relaize the irony in front of them...
However, it seems to me the decent thing to do would be to "grandfather" the current tenants and only apply the smoking ban to new rentals. Eventually they would get their precious "smoke-free" building, and they also wouldn't have to evict any old indigent folks who've lived in their apartment for years and have no where else to go at this point in their life.
When I was working my way through college by working at a convenience store it was my experience that most customers were on some sort of government relief. So they probably pay way more than the average price for cigarettes. I would suspect the true amount is closer to $3000 that gets spent for cigarettes each year. After all, when you're spending other people's money, price is not a consideration.
I’m with you. I understand all the arguments, but still see it as more paternalism. Seattle Housing Authority has had one of these bans for a couple of years. I will have to check to make sure, but think they also have a gun ban. Remember that a lot of these buildings are in bad neighborhoods, where elderly residents have to walk to do errands, etc.
I am still trying to find out if SHA has a weapons ban. All I have determined is that HUD leaves the decision up to the localities.
I still see this stuff as a social engineering issue. It’s very similar to the problem of people buying food others deem unnutritious with EBT. Ideally, people are paying for their own food, end of problem, but until we live in a perfect world...
Think of it this way. Anything that makes the useless leeches more uncomfortable means a greater chance they’ll get angry and decide they’d rather pay for stuff themselves to have more freedom. We ALL win, if the rules make them so miserable they’d rather work!
SO because they are living on public assistance, we have the right to monitor and ban their personal habits or behaviors?
If they are getting MY money. Then YES. we should have some say in their life style.
Drug test um to.
You want to smoke? Fine. Smoke.. Go out side of MY building and smoke.
Those making these rules DO know best, after all...
Its BS, she says. Its against our legal rights as a U.S. citizen.
When you volunteer to live on a plantation, you shouldn’t complain about being enslaved.
For a one trick pony, I’m starting to agree with you more. If the “residents” in Public Housing don’t like the smoking ban they are free to buy their own housing where they can smoke as much as they like.
“SO because they are living on public assistance, we have the right to monitor and ban their personal habits or behaviors? “
Yeah I can imagine that. 100 per cent I can.
“However, where I do take issue, is this is the same government that has forced other property owners to implement these same guidelines whether they wish to or not - based on the same bogus information and scare tactics”
I sometimes feel as if I’m living in alternative universe.The much maligned fifties were years of lots of freedoms,many now long gone.
Things weren’t perfect then,they never will be,but it was a much more tolerant,respectful society.
I’m baffled why, with all the crime, drugs and gangstaz that accompany public housing programs, the authorities are worried about tobacco.
Nanny State PING!
“Im baffled why, with all the crime, drugs and gangstaz that accompany public housing programs, the authorities are worried about tobacco”
It is rather astonishing,isn’t it? The inmates are running the asylum.
It’s their priorities...
Want to smoke in your apartment, get your own place.
Did this include the freedom to mooch of the taxpayers and have them subsidize your rent?
Because the attack continues on all fronts. Too many people think all these command and control tactics are isolated from one another, when the reality is that they are all part of the Progressive Grand Stategery.
Lol that was to the point. I think that if a person is living off us tax-payers we have the right to dictate what kind of food items they should be allowed to purchase (economical and beneficial not luxuries)and what kind of housing they’ll live in (again economy and to code) however I don’t feel I have the right to tell them what they can and cannot do within the confines of their home. As long as it’s legal. If some unemployed or disabled person can gather 5 bucks for a pack of smokes, I don’t have a problem with them smoking em’.