Local News

Raleigh Plans to Fight Crime with Renovation

Posted July 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Public housing exists to provide housing to people who have trouble affording a home of their own, but it is housing something else as well -- crime.

More than 1,000 calls came in to Raleigh police from Halifax Court in the last year even with 8 officers on duty around the clock. Those calls represented 226 violent crimes and 138 drug and vandalism charges.

Some say overcrowding is the root of the problem, but city leaders have a new plan they hope will drive crime out.

The plan would take the 60-year-old public housing facility and replace it with single-family homes housing fewer people.

Resident Tracey Barnes says she thinks the old apartments need to come down.

The plan would create cleaner, safer places to live. Raleigh Housing Authority director Steve Beam says fewer people means fewer crimes.

Getting rid of all the negatives sounds like a step in the right direction, but some people in Halifax Court are concerned. Sharon Person says many people are very settled in the project.

Beam says public housing was never intended as a place for people to settle down, but was meant to provide temporary housing until people could get on their feet.

The problem arises when you consider that 760 people living in Halifax Court will have to find a new place to live if the development is torn down. It's happened before.

Almost three years ago, the public housing authority emptied Dandridge Downs. Beam says residents got vouchers to pay for half or all of their rent at other complexes. He says the turnover rate in public housing is another factor.

The future of the plan hinges on the housing authority obtaining a federal grant. The application for that grant will be filed by Friday.