Local housing authorities ban smoking before the proposed nation - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local housing authorities ban smoking before the proposed nationwide mandate


Across the country HUD wants its public housing facilities to become smoke-free. In the Stateline several of those facilities already ban smoking and showed us the impact it had. 

Five years ago Winnebago County paved the way for Stateline public housing to ban smoking. It prepared its public housing residents for the change long before it actually happened. 

Alan Zais, Winnebago County Housing Authority Executive Director, stated, "We took a year from the time we very first approached our residents to the time it went into effect."

After seeing Winnebago County's success other neighboring housing authorities like Freeport and Rockford also decided to ban smoking. 

Larry Williams, Freeport Housing Authority CEO, says, "The top reasons why was health concerns for our residents and employees."

If HUD makes non-smoking a blanket rule across the country it would mean smokers must be at least 25 feet from their buildings. But residents would have 18 months to prepare for the change. 

Williams states, "I think sometimes the way people perceive the word mandate is here's the government again making us do something. I do understand the benefits of being smoke-free and the reasons why I think HUD proceeded with it."

Without the harmful fumes housing authorities say they can fill apartments faster, saving money and creating a healthier living style.

"It was easier to market our units because we see more and more buildings that are non-smoking." Zais explains, "It is easier to turn units over when someone moves so we are able to help the next family much faster." 

It's unclear if HUD will make the ban on smoking a final rule, but residents of the buildings that are smoke free are positive about some things.

Larry Phillips, Freeport Housing Resident, says "Smoking can absorb into the surroundings into the walls and furniture which you own so I am very happy HUD is doing this." 

Rockford Housing Authority even has a new marijuana policy RHA President Ron Clewer says you are not allowed to smoke anything in one of RHA's units no matter what it is. Ingesting marijuana legally would be their only option. 

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