Local police and housing officials say they favor a proposal by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to crack down on drug abuse in subsidized housing.
Determined to rid public housing of drug dealers and abusers, HUD Secretary Jack Kemp announced April 10 that all future public-housing leases will make illegal drug activity grounds for eviction.Many public-housing leases already prohibit tenants from using or selling illicit drugs. However, HUD's new ruling would extend that prohibition to all public-housing tenants.
The ruling could affect 843 subsidized housing units administered by the Ogden Housing Authority, said Jennie R. Montoya, spokeswoman for the office. As many as 2,000 more units administered privately also could be affected.
Montoya said public-housing leases handled by her office stress that tenants must live according to HUD guidelines, "but they don't specifically spell out that tenants can't use or deal drugs," she said.
Missy Peterson, deputy director of the Davis County Housing Authority, said illegal drug trafficking has not been a problem in the agency's 158 public-housing units.
"We have had no arrests in our public housing that we are aware of," she said.
Ogden Police Chief Joe Ritchie said Kemp's proposed change in policy would aid the efforts of law enforcement officials to curb drug trafficking and abuse in public housing because it would allow them to begin eviction proceedings as soon as a tenant has been formally charged with a drug violation.
Currently, eviction is permissible only after a tenant has been convicted, he said.
"We're not interested in making arrests. We're interested in the potential it (the new ruling) has as a deterrent," Ritchie said. It's our goal to keep drugs out of public housing."