SRHA prepares to kick the habit

Published 10:45 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority will transition to having a smoke-free public housing by Aug. 1 in order to comply with federal regulations.

The policy will promote a healthier and safer living environment and reduce potential health hazards associated with smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, as well as reduce residential fire risk. The policy was adopted to comply with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Smoke-Free Housing Rule.

The smoke-free policy prohibits smoking in residents’ apartments, common rooms, hallways, elevators and offices. The policy applies to residents, guests, service providers and employees.

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SRHA hopes for a seamless transition, but Executive Director Tracey Snipes recognizes that there might be challenges.

“I definitely think we may have small challenges, but we have been promoting the fact that SRHA would be smoke-free in August 2018 for over three years,” Snipes said. “Residents have all received the opportunity to attend smoking cessation classes.”

SRHA currently manages and maintains 466 public housing units in Suffolk including four multi-family properties — Cypress Manor Apartments, Parker Riddick Villages, Hoffler Apartments and Colander Bishop Meadows — and a complex for housing elderly and disabled, Chorey Park Apartments.

Those found violating the policy will be treated the same as other violations in the lease agreement. The resident will be counseled and served a non-compliance notice. This notice gives the resident 21 days to correct the violation, and if they don’t, they will have 30 days to vacate.

HUD made the policy effective date Feb. 3, 2017, and gave public housing authorities 18 months to implement the new policy.

HUD believes that secondhand smoke is the biggest issue with people smoking in public housing, and by making a rule against smoking will cut down on second-hand smoke.

“It is important to create a healthy living environment and to assist our families with children who have asthma,” Snipes said.

According to Health and Human Services, children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for more frequent and severe asthma attacks along with other health issues.

Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority will have kick-off ceremonies at all five of their public housing communities beginning July 10 at Chorey Park and continuing July 19 at Cypress Manor and Parker Riddick and July 24 at Colander Bishop Meadows and Hoffler Apartments. The kick-off ceremonies will consist of a balloon release and the unveiling of the designated smoking areas.

For more information regarding the events call 539-2100.