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Low-income issues topic at annual city retreat

Thursday, September 23, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:17 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

Buses and day-care centers accommodate daytime work schedules, excluding night shift workers at factories and hospitals. Public housing neighborhoods offer mostly low-paying jobs in fast food and retail. Too many kids are on the street at night and there is not enough interaction with the police.

These are some of the issues resident services specialist Carrie Brown of the Columbia Housing Authority raised to a group of city officials at the organization’s annual retreat Tuesday.

Brown and public housing resident Constance Clark spoke on the topic of “life in the inner city for a low-income family” to an audience that included city manager Ray Beck, Police Chief Randy Boehm, Mayor Darwin Hindman and three members of the City Council.

“I imagine the council has no idea what it’s like to live on $6,000 a year,” said Doris Chiles, Columbia Housing Authority executive director, at the board meeting that preceded dinner with the council.

The Columbia Housing Authority invited city council members and police to its annual retreat to explain the issues residents face and open up dialogue to find solutions.

“We want people living in Columbia Housing Authority units to feel their neighborhood is as good as any other in town,” Hindman said. “I was listening to some of these ideas. Each one brings up a problem we need to look into.”

Hindman recommended building more mixed income housing to alleviate some of the problems residents face in the inner city neighborhoods.

Councilman Chris Janku said the city could look into subsidizing a day-care center with next year’s budget to offer extended hours on evenings and weekends.

Improving safety for public housing residents was also raised at the meeting. Clark, who lives in Trinity Place, said she feels safe, but there are people coming into the neighborhood to engage in criminal activity.

“We’d like to see more foot patrols,” Brown said. “The more relationships we build walking and talking with people — that presence makes a big difference.”

The housing authority offered enforcing curfews for minors and privatizing sidewalks as solutions. Boehm said his department does not have the number of officers to proactively enforce either, but that the curfew could help remove people from escalating situations.


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