Ocean City Housing Authority Approves Smoking Ban

first_imgBy Donald WittkowskiThose “No Smoking” signs commonly seen in buildings throughout New Jersey are nowhere to be found at the Ocean City Housing Authority.Currently, residents of the Bayview Manor and Pecks Beach Village housing complexes managed by the authority are allowed to light up in their rooms and other parts of the buildings, officials said.However, the authority’s board members approved a new policy Tuesday that will ban smoking throughout the buildings starting July 1. The authority took the action to comply with federal smoke-free guidelines.Jacqueline Jones, the authority’s executive director, said the no-smoking policy has been met with widespread support among the residents.“We had several tenant meetings about this. By and large, it was supported,” Jones said. “Some smokers are not happy. But we found that not many people smoke anymore.”Up to this point, the authority has been encouraging residents to voluntarily refrain from smoking, Jones said. But she noted that they are currently free to smoke in their rooms and other sections of the buildings. Many residents object when smokers light up outside Bayview Manor and smoke seeps inside the rooms through open windows, Jones said.Under the most severe penalty, residents would risk being evicted from the housing authority buildings if they blatantly violated the new smoke-free policy. Authority officials stressed that eviction would only be considered as the very last resort — if at all.“We would make every effort not to do that,” said Bob Barr, a city councilman who serves as chairman of the housing authority board.“That’s not our goal,” Jones added.Ocean City Housing Authority Chairman Bob Barr and Executive Director Jacqueline Jones said the new no-smoking policy complies with federal smoke-free guidelines.Although smoking will be banned inside the building, Bayview Manor will have a designated outdoor area where residents may light up.Jones explained there will be no designated smoking area outside Pecks Beach Village because there is not enough housing authority property surrounding the complex to accommodate one. Under the new policy, there must be a minimum 25-foot buffer between the buildings and any outdoor smoking areas, she said.The authority uses federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide affordable housing for low-income senior citizens, families and the disabled at its Pecks Beach Village and Bayview Manor facilities.In other business Tuesday, Jones announced that the authority will continue with its efforts to sign up more Ocean City residents to a waiting list for vacancies at Bayview Manor and Pecks Beach Village.Currently, there is only one opening, but the authority wants to establish a pipeline of eligible residents when more vacancies become available throughout the year.Ocean City residents and people who have full-time jobs in the city are given preference for vacancies. However, the authority has had a difficult time finding enough local residents for the waiting list.Jones told the board members that the authority will extend the sign-up period for the waiting list through the “foreseeable future.” Previously, it supposed to end on April 30. The authority will place advertisements to alert the public about the waiting list.Barr said there will be no sign-up list for the authority’s proposed $4.2 million housing complex for senior citizens. The project, tentatively scheduled to open in late 2019, will include 20 units of affordable housing for seniors.Senior citizens who already live in Pecks Beach Village will be transferred over to the new housing complex when it opens. Barr said some people had mistakenly thought they could simply contact the authority and reserve a room in the new building.The senior-citizen units at Pecks Beach Village on Fourth Street will be replaced by a new housing project tentatively scheduled to open in late 2019.The new two-story housing building will be constructed on what is now a parking lot adjacent to the Bayview Manor at Sixth Street and West Avenue. It will be funded by a Hurricane Sandy recovery grant.The new project will replace the existing 20-unit, senior-citizen section of Pecks Beach Village on Fourth Street. The old complex, which is prone to flooding, will be demolished after the new building is ready.Pecks Beach Village also includes a 40-unit complex for low-income families. That part of Pecks Beach will remain open after the new project is built. Jones said the family section of Pecks Beach sits on slightly higher land than the senior-citizens complex and does not flood as much.In other business at Tuesday’s board meeting, the authority approved returning $52,000 in hurricane-recovery funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The money was part of a larger funding package given by FEMA to help the housing authority rebuild from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.A recent review of the authority’s finances found that there was an overpayment of $52,000 from FEMA. Jones said FEMA sent a letter to the authority asking for the money to be returned.“FEMA, unfortunately, is correct and we have to pay that money back,” she said.Barr and Jones said the authority has the ability to repay the money now because of its stronger finances in the past year. The authority was able to boost its rent revenue by an extra $15,000 per month after discovering that some residents had been underpaying, Jones said.To strengthen its finances, the authority undertook a series of fiscal and management reforms following the firing last May of former Executive Director Alesia Watson, who pleaded guilty to embezzling federal housing funds from the agency. Watson was sentenced to three years of probation in September. Jones stepped in as the authority’s new executive director to replace Watson.Barr praised Jones and her management team for helping the agency recover from its financial crisis. He said the $52,000 payment to FEMA would not have been possible if the authority had not rebuilt its finances.“Just a few short months ago, we would not have been in this position,” Barr said. The Ocean City Housing Authority’s Bayview Manor complex at Sixth Street and West Avenue is the proposed site of 32 new units of affordable housing.last_img

first_imgBy Donald WittkowskiThose “No Smoking” signs commonly seen in buildings throughout New Jersey are nowhere to be found at the Ocean City Housing Authority.Currently, residents of the Bayview Manor and Pecks Beach Village housing complexes managed by the authority are allowed to light up in their rooms and other parts of the buildings, officials said.However, the authority’s board members approved a new policy Tuesday that will ban smoking throughout the buildings starting July 1. The authority took the action to comply with federal smoke-free guidelines.Jacqueline Jones, the authority’s executive director, said the no-smoking policy has been met with widespread support among the residents.“We had several tenant meetings about this. By and large, it was supported,” Jones said. “Some smokers are not happy. But we found that not many people smoke anymore.”Up to this point, the authority has been encouraging residents to voluntarily refrain from smoking, Jones said. But she noted that they are currently free to smoke in their rooms and other sections of the buildings. Many residents object when smokers light up outside Bayview Manor and smoke seeps inside the rooms through open windows, Jones said.Under the most severe penalty, residents would risk being evicted from the housing authority buildings if they blatantly violated the new smoke-free policy. Authority officials stressed that eviction would only be considered as the very last resort — if at all.“We would make every effort not to do that,” said Bob Barr, a city councilman who serves as chairman of the housing authority board.“That’s not our goal,” Jones added.Ocean City Housing Authority Chairman Bob Barr and Executive Director Jacqueline Jones said the new no-smoking policy complies with federal smoke-free guidelines.Although smoking will be banned inside the building, Bayview Manor will have a designated outdoor area where residents may light up.Jones explained there will be no designated smoking area outside Pecks Beach Village because there is not enough housing authority property surrounding the complex to accommodate one. Under the new policy, there must be a minimum 25-foot buffer between the buildings and any outdoor smoking areas, she said.The authority uses federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide affordable housing for low-income senior citizens, families and the disabled at its Pecks Beach Village and Bayview Manor facilities.In other business Tuesday, Jones announced that the authority will continue with its efforts to sign up more Ocean City residents to a waiting list for vacancies at Bayview Manor and Pecks Beach Village.Currently, there is only one opening, but the authority wants to establish a pipeline of eligible residents when more vacancies become available throughout the year.Ocean City residents and people who have full-time jobs in the city are given preference for vacancies. However, the authority has had a difficult time finding enough local residents for the waiting list.Jones told the board members that the authority will extend the sign-up period for the waiting list through the “foreseeable future.” Previously, it supposed to end on April 30. The authority will place advertisements to alert the public about the waiting list.Barr said there will be no sign-up list for the authority’s proposed $4.2 million housing complex for senior citizens. The project, tentatively scheduled to open in late 2019, will include 20 units of affordable housing for seniors.Senior citizens who already live in Pecks Beach Village will be transferred over to the new housing complex when it opens. Barr said some people had mistakenly thought they could simply contact the authority and reserve a room in the new building.The senior-citizen units at Pecks Beach Village on Fourth Street will be replaced by a new housing project tentatively scheduled to open in late 2019.The new two-story housing building will be constructed on what is now a parking lot adjacent to the Bayview Manor at Sixth Street and West Avenue. It will be funded by a Hurricane Sandy recovery grant.The new project will replace the existing 20-unit, senior-citizen section of Pecks Beach Village on Fourth Street. The old complex, which is prone to flooding, will be demolished after the new building is ready.Pecks Beach Village also includes a 40-unit complex for low-income families. That part of Pecks Beach will remain open after the new project is built. Jones said the family section of Pecks Beach sits on slightly higher land than the senior-citizens complex and does not flood as much.In other business at Tuesday’s board meeting, the authority approved returning $52,000 in hurricane-recovery funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The money was part of a larger funding package given by FEMA to help the housing authority rebuild from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.A recent review of the authority’s finances found that there was an overpayment of $52,000 from FEMA. Jones said FEMA sent a letter to the authority asking for the money to be returned.“FEMA, unfortunately, is correct and we have to pay that money back,” she said.Barr and Jones said the authority has the ability to repay the money now because of its stronger finances in the past year. The authority was able to boost its rent revenue by an extra $15,000 per month after discovering that some residents had been underpaying, Jones said.To strengthen its finances, the authority undertook a series of fiscal and management reforms following the firing last May of former Executive Director Alesia Watson, who pleaded guilty to embezzling federal housing funds from the agency. Watson was sentenced to three years of probation in September. Jones stepped in as the authority’s new executive director to replace Watson.Barr praised Jones and her management team for helping the agency recover from its financial crisis. He said the $52,000 payment to FEMA would not have been possible if the authority had not rebuilt its finances.“Just a few short months ago, we would not have been in this position,” Barr said. The Ocean City Housing Authority’s Bayview Manor complex at Sixth Street and West Avenue is the proposed site of 32 new units of affordable housing.last_img

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