Archive for Monday, June 7, 2010

Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority considering smoking ban in its apartments

The Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority will decide later this month if it will ban smoking in all of its apartments, which provide living situations for the elderly and disadvantaged.

June 7, 2010


Reader poll
Should smoking be banned in residences owned by the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority?

or See the results without voting


A new type of smoking ban may be coming to more than 400 Lawrence homes.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority is considering a ban that would prohibit residents from smoking inside authority-owned apartments, such as Edgewood Homes, Babcock Place, Peterson Acres and Clinton Place.

“We understand they are all adults and can make the choice of whether to smoke,” said Barbara Huppee, executive director of the authority. “But there is an issue of social justice for people who don’t smoke but are affected by the secondhand smoke and the impact it has on their property. And then, there’s the risk of fire.”

It was a fire in November at Babcock Place that got the authority’s board thinking about a ban. The fire was the result of smoking and caused $40,000 in damages. A fire in 2000 at Babcock caused $250,000 in damages.

The ban would prohibit all indoor smoking in properties owned by the housing authority, which provides subsidized housing to elderly and low-income people. Residents would be allowed to smoke outside, including on covered porches. Huppee said a new state law prohibiting smoking within 10 feet of a doorway won’t apply to housing authority properties because they are residences, not public spaces. Privately owned residences that are part of the authority’s Section 8 housing program would not be covered by the ban.

Reactions from residents have been mixed. One survey by the housing authority found about 70 percent support for some sort of smoking ban. The staff estimates 25 percent to 30 percent of residents in the authority’s 429 units smoke.

“I don’t even begin to understand how they can ban a legal substance in somebody’s own home,” said Pat Benabe, who lives in an authority housing unit. “We’re talking about a lot of older people who have a lifetime habit. I’m not promoting smoking. I wish I hadn’t started, but it is an addiction that you can’t just stop.”

If the ban wins approval — the authority’s board is expected to discuss it at a meeting late this month — Huppee said staff will develop an enforcement strategy. She said enforcement would be gradual and would include programs that would help people stop smoking, if they so desire.

Huppee also said her agency is confident about the legality of a ban. About 150 housing authorities across the country have banned smoking to different degrees, and the department of Housing and Urban Development is now urging the bans, she said.

Some residents still feel like their rights are being infringed.

“I know they say there is nothing in the Constitution that says you have a right to smoke,” Benabe said. “But turn that over and there is nothing in the Constitution that says you don’t have the right to smoke.”

The housing authority’s board next meets at 5:30 p.m. on June 28 at Edgewood Homes, 1600 Haskell Avenue.


skinny 8 years ago

Good Idea, if they can afford to smoke then we don't need to be helpin them with their rent!!

andyk 8 years ago

That should hardly be of concern considering how much money we waste helping some of those on unemployment and disability.

whats_going_on 8 years ago

I pray that you never become disabled and/or lose work and don't have enough money to get by on.

Food_for_Thought 8 years ago

Being disabled and/or unemployed doesn't give anyone an excuse to blow what money they have on drug addictions (tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs). Their lives might be at a low point, but that doesn't excuse substance abuse. Unemployment and/or disability doesn't justify sitting around and doing nothing while spending what little assistance they get to purchase chemical "escapes". There are more people on disability than there really needs to be. There are disabled citizens out there who rise above their impairment and make something of themselves, and being unemployed only provides someone a possible opportunity to go back to school or start their own business. The world is what you make of it. Be a societal leech sitting around and collecting checks because the government gives you an "excuse" to do so, if that's their choice. Just don't complain when the government, who GIVES them that money, decides what can and can't be done in the housing THEY provide. It isn't saying the disabled/unemployed CANNOT purchase cigarettes; the limited-funding government programs just want to reduce the liability of allowing tenants to negatively impact the health of other non-smoking tenants, as well as reduce the chances of tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential damages when someone irresponsibly causes a fire and destroys the structures and other tenants' personal belongings.

BTW, my comment about the disabled IS NOT a blanket statement directed towards ALL disabled persons. I just know that both disabled and unemployment programs are heavily abused. Many people make their "living" abusing such programs...

Scott Drummond 8 years ago

Agreed. Why are we subsidizing drug addicts?

izzybear 8 years ago

i understand that the ldcha has concerns about property damage to their units but nobody has the right to tell you what you can or can not do in your home as long as it is legal. a smokeing ban is takeing away a persons right to choose it takes away free will and free choice. people pay for those places and they have a right to smoke if they so choose. until or unless smoking becomes illegal. there is more damage done to units thru drinking then smoking but they are not worried about that . i quit smoking after 20 years but that was my choice. nobody has the right to choose what goes on in your home and when you sign a lease it is yours. the government does not have the right to tell you what you can or can not do we are not a dictatorship we have the right to choose and noone should have a say in what we do to ourselves in the privicy of our paid for home. i have a right to do what i want to myself and no one has the right to tell me what i can or can not do. no one has the right to force me to live the way someone else wants me to. i am a free person able to make my own decisions i am an adult i don't need mommy telling me what i can or can not do.

Maddy Griffin 8 years ago

So anyone who is poor has no Civil Rights? Many of our Congress people are abusing their constituents pockets without their knowledge but you want to police the poor folks! Get real!

Liberty275 8 years ago

your home

There's the flaw in your logic.

imastinker 8 years ago

agreed - if you rent you abide by the rules the landlord sets forth. It's no different than not allowing pets or having rules about punching holes in the wall.

a1983amber 8 years ago

I think that instead of worrying about smoking in their units they should spend there time enforcing the rules!!! I have a Townhome down the street that has a resident that gets almost all of her $800 rent paid monthly by the housing authority But what they don't care about is that her Boyfriend who is a felon is living there and not working and not on the lease! I called and wrote emails telling them that he lived there and they did nothing!!! Drives me nuts! I work very hard to support my kids and I think that other people should have to do the same! I hate people who take advantage of the system!

windjammer 8 years ago

You don't think that many people are useing the system? What planet have you been on? Roll up another one and fry your brain more.

Stuart Evans 8 years ago

har har, fry your brain.. priceless. However, your implication that smoking marijuana might fry your brain is inaccurate. The old reefer madness is still clinging tight in society I see.

corkster 8 years ago

lol, oak. that is pretty funny :-) i totally agree on your comment that no one chooses to be homeless. i think people who use the housing authority are in need. i mean, there probably are some (few) a**holes who cook up a scheme to finance their lifestyles by using things like the housing, but mostly it's just people who need it. people who have a mental impairment are worse off than those who don't, and we shouldn't judge them. yes, they may make decisions like smoking that we don't like (this is excluding the fact that she almost burned down your home), but this is how it is. people need help sometimes, and we should just worry about our own happiness and be happy that we CAN provide for others when they need it. I know if i ever find myself in a position like that, i'd be grateful. so they smoke. so sue them. i don't want to be the kind of person who is so self-righteous that i judge those i help (that's not a personal attack, fyi. just a comment).

Bill Lee 8 years ago

People aren't "taking advantage" of the system, they are the reason for the system and why it exists. In many cases these people would be homeless without the system, and you'd be complaining about them for being public nuisances.

Stuart Evans 8 years ago

I imagine that you spend too much time peering out from behind that small slit in your curtains hoping to catch your neighbors in some nefarious activity. worry less about your neighbors lifestyle and yours will improve greatly.

SanteeSlumDweller 8 years ago

" beobachter (anonymous) replies…

If you aren't able to pay your full rent, then you do not have right to do whatever you want there. If you want freedom to make your own decisions, no problem pay all of your bills with no taxpayer help."

So by your logic beobachter, if someone wanted to open a business in which smoking was allowed, they would be able to as long as that business received no government assistance?

Also by your logic, persons who wished to make "their own decisions" should be allowed to do if such a decision included such things as deciding whether or not to enter, work in or patronize a place in which smoking was permitted as long as such persons were not receiving government subsidies to do so.

Your own logic Komrade beobachter, torpedoes a huge hole in the unseaworthy boat that is the smoking ban.

windjammer 8 years ago

Looks like to me you don"t understand the word seaworthy.

bigdave 8 years ago

They can't stop them from smoking weed crack and meth how are they going to stop them from smoking cigarettes?!!

Liberty275 8 years ago

When you cede your life over to the nanny state, don't come whining when your nanny takes runs your life because she knows what's better for you than you do..

pace 8 years ago

If one needs help with rent I think it is only fair that they be denied not only the right to have children but to visit the ones they have. They should not be allowed to go to any ol church t but should be assigned to either the church closest to them or to ones willing to transport them. If someone is handicapped or ill they should only be allowed such foods that are healthy and affordable. If such food is not available at reasonable prices they should be given the area between the sidewalk and street to grow food, if they keep it weedfree and attractive. They should not be allowed to buy books or access information sources such as the INTERNET or television. Certain edifying books or pictures will be sent to them but such material will only be on loan and must be returned. There is no way we can make life fair for those who have been thoughtful enough to have their full health, not to age past their income, nor be so careless as to come down with a condition or disease that debilitates them in any way, this includes mobility, hearing, sight or speech. Anyone who has been so careless as to well be poor or differently abled should make it up to those who are normal. There are really only about 49 normal people in town here. The other seemingly normal people are in debt and have family that helps them when it gets tough. Big hurray for the normal people who never use subsidized services such as streets, fire and police protection, etc.. May they pass this earth before they ever need anything they can't buy.

corkster 8 years ago

you're being supportively sarcastic, no?

corkster 8 years ago

while i get that a lot of apartment complexes and landlords who own and rent out houses have made their properties nonsmoking, the housing authority is more of a public service. the people who take advantage of this, who need it, don't have the luxury of choosing among properties who do allow smoking. they have enough challenging circumstances in their lives, and adding a nonsmoking policy to their limited options just doesn't seem fair. yeah, smoking is bad for you, and it's in everyone's best interest if cigarettes were never invented in the first place. however, come on. give them a break. if you want to use the logic that smoking is a fire hazard, are you gonna ban candles too? i dunno, i guess maybe it would be a positive thing if they were forced to quit because if they need to use the housing authority, they probably don't have/can't afford health insurance. but who is anyone to decide for them? it's like saying, "hey, here are your food stamps, but you can't buy ice cream!" hmmm, yeah it would benefit them to quit, but they're looking for help for a place to live, not for their smoking habit. i say personal freedom prevails.

Evan Ridenour 8 years ago

Actually. I would argue that since the tax payers are paying for a large part of their housing (and most likely most of the rest of their expenses...) that it is asinine to imply that the tax paying public shouldn't be able to restrict the use of the gift.

And this should completely apply to food stamps too. I have seen way to many people at the grocery store with a cart full of chips, candy and soda pop and pay for it by swiping that nifty food stamp card. That is rediculous. If I as a tax payer am going to be paying for all of the living expenses of these people they should be using my money in a responsible manner.

When you can afford to support yourself then go ahead and use whatever vice you want, but when the rest of society is paying for your lifestyle you have zero right to go around abusing it.

corkster 8 years ago

i get your point, eride, but there's no need for name calling. (asinine). I'm certainly not asinine. I don't think buying soda is abusing people's money. Yeah, if people are in a position that requires the help of others, then they do KIND OF owe it to the people that are generous enough to give to use it in the most productive way. But generosity doesn't give us the right or power to dictate how they live their lives. It's not like we are going to these people's doorsteps and giving it ourselves. it's dictated by the government. if i gave my sister money to pay her rent when she's layed off (she's not, this is just for argument's sake), i would be pretty pissed if she spent it on worlds of fun or something. but just because they need help doesn't mean they don't deserve to buy sweet things or a cold coke in the summer. (seriously, who doesn't love that?) my point is, these things are in place to help them survive, and as long as they are, they don't owe us anything. they didn't choose to be poor, sometimes life just hands you a s**t deal. they deserve our help, and i honestly don't mind giving someone a couple bucks for an ice cream cone to cheer them up, even if it's just for a minute.

Sw33tKatt 8 years ago

As an owner of one of those nifty food stamp cards I find find it pretty offensive that u think's it's not okay for us to have chips and soda. What do I tell My daughter on her birthday when she wants a party? "Sorry Honey, the tax payers in charge of my card find it irresposible to buy you a cake and a little fun this year. Maybe next year when I'm back on my feet again." Not all of us are using the system and should not be judged for those who do. It's humiliating dude! Thanks to corkster for the glass houses comment.

Evan Ridenour 8 years ago

I think it is pretty obvious from my post that I wasn't arguing you should never be allowed to buy junk food. I was arguing that the tax paying public shouldn't be paying for all of the living expenses (housing, food, medical, transportation, etc) of people and not restricting how it is used. Which means that people on food stamps shouldn't be allowed to go buy only junk food and the spending habits should be monitored. The only reason I have even noticed this occurence is because literally their entire cart is full only of candy, chips and soda pop. That fact alone should be embarrassing to them but it isn't. For the same reason it seems very reasonable to expect not to be able to smoke in tax payer funded housing. For starters, if we the tax payers are paying for your housing you shouldn't even have the money to buy cigarettes, but secondly it damages the tax payer funded property and poses a danger of fire.

And I am sorry you find being judged for being dependent on tax payer money is humiliating... but it should be. As a tax paying and contributing member of society I find it annoying that my money is spent on your food instead of funding schools, building roads, etc.

There is a difference between spending your own money how you want to and spending money that you are mooching off the rest of society.

David Albertson 8 years ago

FYI, the Lawrence Housing Authority is self sufficient and has been since the mid 90's. They receive no federal money for daily operations.

Evan Ridenour 8 years ago

I want to add that I find it insulting that people are whining about restrictions being placed on how they spend our money.

corkster 8 years ago

geez, get over it eride. how would you feel if you were in a position where you needed help, and then on top of that people are trying to dictate your spending habits? humiliating, no? it's gotta be pretty depressing to not be able to provide for yourself or your family, and on top of that you have to adhere to the rules of the people who helped you out? yes, the help should be used in a productive way, but the housing authority is for housing, not everyday living. let's say someone smoke 1 pack a day. $6 a pack times 7 days times 4 weeks. that's $168 a month. that's not getting anyone out of needing rental help.

whats_going_on 8 years ago

Perhaps the act of smoking, killing your body, and spending 5 bucks a pack whilst still NEEDING that government money is humiliating in itself? I'm all for helping people in need, but if they are making no move to help themselves (providing they have the mental and physical capacity to do so), than I don't agree with it.

It's like those who complain about being overweight and yet don't do anything to become healthy, or those who complain about not having money or a job, yet sit and watch TV all day and don't actively look for one.

ksarmychick 8 years ago

Okay so yout logic of $6 a day or $2190 a year is nothing? That would be the equlialent of 5.475 months of rent if they were paying $400 in rent a month (yes lawrence has 2 bedrooms for around this much). That's almost half a year! If they can afford the cigs they can afford their own rent. It's called priorities.

Maddy Griffin 8 years ago

I'm all for that, but can we also screen the employees at SRS? I've known a few of them to be major crackheads.

whats_going_on 8 years ago

I totally agree with the drug tests for those on welfare. I think they have some sort of testing now (?) but last time I read something about it, they get numerous chances if the test fails before they get booted from funding.

Armored_One 8 years ago

And I quote:

scott3460 (anonymous) replies… Agreed. Why are we subsidizing drug addicts?

And if it was a halfway house for heroine addicts or meth addicts, would you be so quick to condemn them?

corkster 8 years ago

exactly! we are human, with flaws. smoking is not a crime. we could find a unnecessary purchase in probably every home that is subsidized. just like everyone else. come one, do people really want to take away from the satisfaction of helping others by nitpicking at how they live their lives? smoking is within reason, buying a new car or taking advantage of the cheap housing in some way is not justified. smokers are not taking advantage, they just smoke. all of us who can afford to live elsewhere surely waste money in our own ways. people in glass houses....

bigdave 8 years ago

Let them smoke cigarettes as long as the meth lab is not running!!!! Don't want to blow up the meth lab next door!!!!

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

I say go for it.

Many Babcock residents already smoke outside.

Bassetlover 8 years ago

To me, it's not an issue if the housing is subsidized with taxpayer money. Rather I would love to see a ban on all smoking in any type of multi-unit dwelling. There have been so many fires caused by careless smoking in apartment buildings/complexes. Inevitably, thousands of dollars of damage is the end result, not to mention the other tenants adversely impacted as well. If you live in a single-unit dwelling, smoke to your hearts content. If you burn the place down, you only destroy what belongs to you. But you don't have the right to ruin what belongs to others because of your lifestyle choices.

whats_going_on 8 years ago

Ugh, this one strikes a note with me. I don't live in these residences, but rather a condo and since they are individually owned, you can do what you like. So...when the guy above me doesn't have his air or heat going, the smoke seeps down into my place and it smells TERRIBLE. Gives me headaches, makes me sick to my stomach...just nasty. I wish people just wouldn't smoke, period. :(

think_about_it 8 years ago

Worth repeating, Liberty275 from above:

"When you cede your life over to the nanny state, don't come whining when your nanny takes runs your life because she knows what's better for you than you do.."

Maddy Griffin 8 years ago

Looks like another excuse for Huppee to stick her nose into someone else's business.Ugh! We lived in Edgewood back in the late 80's and Der Fuhrer was all over everything anyone did. We moved out finally because it felt like there were hidden cameras everywhere. There was no air conditioning there then and she was constantly on people about using too much water to fill wading pools in the summer. I feel sorry for those who are not able to afford to live anywhere else. I believe the last fire out there was caused by maintenance people not residents.

MattressMan 8 years ago

So there we have it the majority have spoken, anyone in a residence that is being subsidized by the government should be banned from smoking.

So listen up...Anyone with a freddie loan, fannie loan, VA loan or any other loan programs backed by the government stop smoking in your house NOW!

Janet Lowther 8 years ago


While I don't much approve of smoking, go right ahead so long as I don't have to breath it.

And that, I would say should be the standard.

If the units in a building have independent heating, ventilation & air-conditioning systems, then smoking should be OK.

However when units share air handlers, then smoking should be forbidden, 'cause the shared air handlers will circulate smoke into neighbor's units.

lawrenceparent 8 years ago

omg... talk about owning someones life

costello 8 years ago

I wonder what percentage of those receiving housing assistance are disabled due to mental illness. The mentally ill, especially schizophrenics, smoke in higher rates than the general population. Up to 90% of schizophrenics smoke, possibly because it helps with some of their symptoms or because it helps with the side effects of their medications. I've heard that at least some schizophrenics have to make adjustments to their medications or dosages when they quit smoking.

aletheia 8 years ago

The LHA provides a service within our community to individuals who have fallen on hard times -- whether by choice or circumstance is beside the point. They are the property owner and therefore can make the rules. Life's a trade-off. If you choose to live in public housing, you, in turn, have agreed to live by the rules created. The LHA has a right to provide smoke-free housing, just as smoker's have a right to seek their own housing -- either purchase their own or rent from a landlord who allows it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.