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Smoke-Free Public Housing

Smoke-FreePublic Housing

BY CHARLES ROWE

"...each PHA must implement a “smoke-free” policy banning the use of prohibited tobacco products in all public housing living units, indoor common areas in public housing, and in PHA administrative office buildings. The smoke-free policy must also extend to all outdoor areas up to 25 feet from the public housing and administrative office buildings." -HUD

The smoke-free public housing mandate is now in effect. At first glance, some may think, “This is great! It discourages smoking within 25 feet of public housing and offices.” It is quite a bit more complicated than that. Some support the policy. Others have minor issues with it. Perhaps you, like some, are not confident in its enforcing powers. A few of your residents (and possibly staff) may see no reason for it. Comments expressed online are proof.

Take the comment section of the National Center for Housing Management (NCHM) website for example.

“Many of the tenants have expressed that they have NO intention of stopping. They won’t.” –Edith Alkire

“HUD buildings in warm climates have the same rules as ones where it is freezing. Palm trees swaying, not icicles falling. This new rule was not well thought out as to regional conditions or the stamina of the elderly in HUD senior housing.” –Carolyn Martarano

“I do not know why I must go 25 feet from the building to smoke a cigarette.” –Michael Eubanks

“What good are house rules if they are not enforced?” -Sandy

JOIN THE CONVO: What have your residents said about the Smoke-Free Mandate? Let me know here: crowe@navigatehousing.com

AUGUST 2018 | ISSUE 06

Many PHAs implemented this rule before the deadline. Some of those PHAs witnessed first-hand the complications and struggles that come with making these adjustments.

Arkansas: KAIT8 in Arkansas reports: “…the Poinsett County Housing Authority sent out 270 letters to residents explaining policy changes that would ban smoking in the units and affect some people’s rent.” Tenants expressed their concerns on social media. Interim Director of Poinsett County Housing Authority, David Lange responded, “Social media goes a little bit crazy at times, and as I told them tonight, I’m not the twoheaded monster that they’re hearing about, we’re here to help them and make nicer units.”

Illinois:  In Illinois, Linda Jones, the Morgan County Housing Authority Director, says they will work with their elderly and disabled residents, who are unable to easily access the new designated smoking areas. The PHA will allow these residents to request a reasonable accommodation. The agency will also allow more time for residents to take advantage of provided resources to break the habit.

D.C.: The Washington Informer reports “D.C. is now among the nation’s municipalities that bar public-housing residents from smoking within 25 feet of their homes.”

Smoke-free money-saver

BY CHARLES ROWE

HUD's smoke-free policy could save PHAs millions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates a $153 million in savings for agencies nationwide.

Renovations of smoking units: $43 million Smoking-related fire losses: $16 million Secondhand smoke-related health care expenditures: $94 million

AUGUST 2018 | ISSUE 06