Unity Day lets residents address issues

Sunday, August 24, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:46 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kids came running to see VeggieTales’ Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber and to jump in the bouncy house at the Unity Day on Unity Drive picnic Saturday. Adults came, too, to meet other public housing residents, eat hamburgers and hotdogs and talk to police and health department workers about whatever was on their minds.

Carrie Brown, residence services coordinator, organized Unity Day, sponsored by the Columbia Housing Authority, to encourage residents to meet, talk and initiate change in their communities.

“Compared to other high-rise public housing like in the south, Paquin Towers is maintained well,” resident Katie Sandberg said. “You don’t have to wait weeks to get a toilet fixed.”

Noble Banks, 63, said he likes the recreation provided to tenants in his building. He plays pool on the two tables at Oak Towers.

Besides providing opportunities for residents to meet each other and express concerns, the housing authority also provided health-related services and information, such as free HIV testing and information about the Women Infant Child program.

“We have good tenants,” Brown said. However, many don’t engage in public debate on issues that vitally affect them, she said. She listed drugs as a key concern, and Chris Spivey, the downtown site manager, said domestic disputes can also be a problem.

The housing authority hopes to engage more residents in addressing these issues, Brown said.

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