Cameras added for safety at apartments

Springfield group OKs more than $100K in work to reduce crime.

The Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority Board of Commissioners approved approximately $123,000 worth of safety upgrades for the Hugh Taylor and Cole Manor apartment complexes at a special meeting on Monday morning.

Hugh Taylor Apartments, 1707 E. High St., will have an approximately $70,000 security camera system installed to increase safety and reduce crime at the apartment complex.

Cole Manor, 315 Burnett Road, will also receive $53,000 in new LED lights and exit signs for its 170 residents. The work will be completed as part of upgrades to the walkways and ceilings, which could be approved next month.

SMHA provides 640 units for more than 1,000 people throughout Springfield. The organization is funded through HUD, which coordinates housing assistance for the federal government.

SMHA owns and operates five apartment complexes, including Cole Manor, Hugh Taylor Apartments, Robert C. Henry Homes, Grayhill Apartments, Sherman Court and Murray Apartments. It also owns Lincoln Park Circle, but it’s managed by a different organization, and the agency has other scattered sites throughout the city.

SMHA commissioner Kent Sherry said increasing safety for residents and reducing crime are major concerns for the commissioners.

“It harms everybody,” Sherry said. “It harms the innocent person, and they’re the ones we take care of.”

The money is coming from SMHA’s 2011 capital fund monies provided yearly by HUD.

Sherry said the addition of a camera security system at Cole Manor has cut down on crime, so they decided to install a similar system at Hugh Taylor. Cole Manor added 30 cameras to its system in 2012.

The system at Hugh Taylor will have approximately 64 cameras for its 105 units. SMHA director of modernization Cindy Hunter said the current camera system is outdated.

The new upgrades “will allow us to monitor everything from the elevators to the hallways to the outside,” Sherry said.

There were 109 calls to service at SMHA facilities in June, according to SMHA records; 48 of those calls required more than one officer, including 32 property crimes and 30 violent crimes. Hugh Taylor had 13 calls to police in June, including six that required more than one officer.

SMHA also recently spent $18,000 on security systems at both Sherman Court and Murray Apartments.

“We want to make sure that our residents are feeling safe,” said SMHA executive director Par Tolliver. “Through some of our talks, that’s one of the things they’ve brought up. We want to make sure we’ve done our best to make sure they feel as secure as possible.”

Sherry said there’s no shortage of projects at the facilities but said HUD has alerted them to another possible funding cut. They recently had a 30 percent funding cut and could see an additional 5 percent cut.

“It’s a real issue trying to keep things together and keep things in safe order,” Sherry said.

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