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April 16-22 Help Haven House win new floors by voting here. Children's Organ Transplant Association Benefit - Friday April 20 at the Frist Presbyterian Church on West Ottawa Street in Lansing. For more
JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) - People who live in Reed Manor public housing in Jackson are doing everything they they can to keep armed guards on duty and on staff. Officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) advised the managment of the Jackson Housing Commission (JHC) that it's hemorrhaging money and all non-essentials must go. By HUD's definition, armed security guards are not essential.
Connie Crandall, interim executive director of the JHC, says the guards were always meant to be just a temporary fix until outside lighting and security cameras were installed. After several months and nearly $400,000, installation is now complete. In an email to Crandall Wednesday, a HUD official wrote that "guards would be duplicative" and the "JHC can not afford the $7,000 a month to keep the guards."
Crandall says the matter of keeping versus cancelling the guards is out of her hands as HUD advised her to cut all non-essentials.
"Guards are considered non-essential," Crandall told 6 News.
"Essentials are refrigerators, utilities, a secure door. All of those things are necessary items in your apartment," she said.
Reed Manor resident of one year, Mary Scott disagrees. She says guards are absolutely essential. When two gunmen barged in her apartment three months ago, she says the armed security guards, who were on-site, got to her before the police.
"I was scared to death because I had my grandson, my brand new grandson in my arms," Scott said.
"What if they got to shooting? A bullet don't have no name," she said.
HUD officials emailed JHC's September budget Thursday morning. It's a full 10 percent or $4,000 less than August's budget. And Crandall says $26,000 less than Sept. 2012. With three-month-old unpaid invoices, including invoices for the armed security guards, Crandall says there's just no extra money.
President of the Reed Manor Tenant Association isn't taking 'no' for an answer.
"They can keep saying it all they want," Ryals told 6 News. "What I'm going to try to do (is) get a grant. You know, see what's out there. See how we can get funding."
According to JHC records, the average annual income for residents at Reed Manor is $9,000 and 70 percent are disabled. Ryals says they rely on affordable as well as safe housing. She is organizing a petition to keep the guards and preparing to send it to HUD officials in Detroit and Washington D.C. So far, about 150 residents have signed it.
Unlike the new security cameras and lighting, guards patrol the hallways inside the complex. Ryals says it's inside, not outside, where trouble tends to happen.
"What are the security cameras and lighting going to do if someone's getting shot?" asked Scott.
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