Crime-Plagued Q Meadows Calls On Housing Authority To Do Better

Jordi Gassó PhotoFrustrated over deadly violence, Quinnipiac Meadows neighbors Tuesday night pointed a finger at what they called a culprit: the housing authority.

Alders, police officers and around 20 local residents huddled inside the Ross/Woodward School on Barnes Avenue to protest the escalation of crime in the area, on the heels of a Sunday morning shooting at a complex on Donna Drive. Residents have correlated this upsurge to the increased presence of public housing in the area.

Among their requests, the residents are asking local officials for the resignation of Housing Authority of New Haven (HANH) executive director Karen DuBois-Walton and an investigation into her department’s budget. HANH representatives did not attend the gathering despite repeated invitations in the past, said resident Ron Codianni, head of the Quinnipiac East Management Team’s public safety initiatives.

“For about three years we’ve been discussing this issue” with HANH, he said in an interview. “They’d tell us they would address it the next quarter, and then quarters would turn into half-years.”

Attendees argued that increased police presence around public housing projects, provided by the HANH, and proper street lighting would represent a much-needed deterrent.

Reached Wednesday morning, DuBois-Walton responded that the authority has worked closely with police and the neighborhood to address crime and potential crime. Among the actions she listed:

• HANH has a housing manager and maintenance staff devoted specifically to the area.
• “We also have a resident service coordinator assigned to assist families with social service needs.”
• HANH shares information on crime with the cops and pays for extra-duty cops at developments.
• It has provided two apartments in neighborhood public-housing developments for cops to live in.
• With federally subsidized Section 8 apartments, “we work with landlords and tenants” to respond to complaints and have a policy of evicting tenants against whom HANH has “strong information” of criminal activity.
• It works closely with the private management of the Quinnipiac Terrace projects.
• HANH officials regularly attend neighborhood meetings. While they weren’t included Tuesday night, they are on the agenda for a September management team meeting, DuBois-Walton said.

She also said the Donna Drive address where the latest shooting occurred is not an authority property.

At Tuesday’s event, Codianni (pictured on the left) estimated the cost of bringing in four more full-time police officers and two narcotics detectives in the area for a year — about $700,000 — in order to revive the now-defunct Bella Vista police substation.

“We need help out here,” said Richard Spears, alder for Quinnipiac Meadows, citing the East Shore police district’s large area. “We still have murders to solve.”

As of December, three homicides have taken place in this district, none of them resolved. Relatives of Javier Martínez, one of the victims, sat in on the Tuesday meeting.

Holding back tears, his aunt Kathy Sánchez (pictured at the top of the story) recounted how family members attended his high school graduation to watch his friends receive their diplomas. A cap and gown was draped over an empty chair.

“It’s not going to bring him back, but it’s gonna feel a whole lot better if the person who did this is behind bars,” she said, calling on community members to come forward with anything that might aid the ongoing police investigation.

Holding HANH Accountable

Codianni has tallied around 518 units of HANH scattered site housing in his neighborhood, he said, three of which abut the condominium where he lives with his family.

Crime is common practice around his residence: He has pictures on his phone of alleged crack cocaine pouches lying flagrantly on the pavement. He has witnessed hand-to-hand drug deals in person, he said, and also captured footage of these transactions on his surveillance system. These HANH projects, he said, are neglected and poorly lit.

“It’s like they made it just to be a drug den,” he told the Independent, adding that housing units where criminal activities take place should be put under state forfeiture.

Homeowners have seen the value of their properties drop drastically — lost money they intend to recoup with the help of city and state lawmakers. Codianni also said the housing authority should be liable for any medical or overtime costs incurred by a first responder at a problem property.

To mixed reactions from neighbors, longtime resident Al Anderson (pictured) suggested the idea of having the city buy out property owners.

“The shooting, the drugs — I’ve heard it, seen it,” he said in an interview. “I want out.”

Codianni has been collecting signatures for a petition urging Connecticut officials and representatives on the state legislature’s housing committee to enact laws that will grant the residents’ requests. He said he will submit the petition to Mayor Toni Harp and HANH’s board on Aug. 19.

“We keep talking till we get blue in the face,” Alder Spears said.

Paul Bass contributed reporting.

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posted by: Noteworthy on August 6, 2014  12:44pm

HANH Notes:

1. KDW lists what they’re doing but not the results of all that “cooperation” and people posturing. Clearly, the residents feel what HANH has accomplished is less than zero.

2. Why didn’t KDW or one of her many minions, or any member of the HANH board which shares a cozy relationship with KDW, attend the meeting? Are they not concerned or are they all individually and collectively hiding behind the platitudes proffered by KDW?

3. HANH repeated refrains of “making progress” remind of the NHPS who used to say the same thing when pre-reform, former Super Mayo and DeStefano used to tell us test scores were improving while managing drop out factories and chronically failing grade schools.

4. Frankly, these poor people are screwed for the foreseeable future. HANH is more concerned with building Taj Mahals of public housing at more than $500,000 per unit than it is keeping people safe in the old units.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 6, 2014  1:57pm

No need to worry people of Quinnipiac Meadows,Get your bags packed.You are on the gentrification vampires list.

posted by: RhyminTyman on August 6, 2014  3:50pm

There 3/5 goes again. Are people allowed to live in a safe neighborhood without violence and crime or is that what you call gentrification.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 6, 2014  6:22pm

posted by: RhyminTyman on August 6, 2014 3:50pm

There 3/5 goes again. Are people allowed to live in a safe neighborhood without violence and crime or is that what you call gentrification.

There you go.Show me where gentrification stops violence and crime.

posted by: Eastside Resident on August 6, 2014  9:20pm

I came home on December 28 to find the grandmother of Javier Martinez crying out his name in my parking lot as she stood yards away from where he was gunned down. My heart broke for her and his other relatives who came with her to the crime scene. I could see the crime scene from my living room window. Less than a month later I could see the crime scene where Durrell Patrick Law fell dead in the street after being shot. I used to live in Hidden Quarry so I have witnessed the drug dealing and crime in that area. Enough is enough! Also in December Kenneth Brown was shot in the head on Quinnipiac Avenue and Deveron McLaughlin was murdered on Weybossett St. Alder Constantinople and others from this area have met with HANH staff over a period of three years to try to resolve the on-going probems. And, as a participant in the district community management team I can assure KDW that someone from the HANH has shown up perhaps 3 times in the past year and a half. The sign-in sheets and minutes from the meetings will verify that. Quinnpiac Meadow residents want to take back our streets and make them safe for everyone, and that, we feel, begins with HANH being accountable for what goes on in and around their numerous properties.

posted by: bohemianchik on August 6, 2014  9:27pm

I am a resident of Q Meadows, and have witnessed drug transactions, violence, and vandalism right in front of my property. HANH knows about the problems here and have yet put an action plan in place. Because of their neglegence, this community is deteriating.

posted by: RhyminTyman on August 6, 2014  10:15pm

This isn’t about gentrification it is about safety. Come on 3/5 you are better than that.

posted by: qave2014 on August 6, 2014  10:17pm

I would like to respond to Executive Director KDW. One of the problems that the Q Meadows community has is the Housing Manager who does not take care of its properties. The property manager neglects their properties, he does not come to community meetings in which he is invited to each month. I will be more than happy to share the attendence log for the QEMT meetings showing that he is continously absent. These properties are most problematic and had MULTIPLE shootings on them throughout the years. This is a concern all throughout the community from Westminster St to Q Ave to Palmieri and Eastern St, just to name a few. We have a full time drug and violence problem and HANH will put a police officer on the property for 4 hours. The management at Q Terrance (Trinity Financial) is where a large portion of the drugs, vandalism, and non stop parties and music to 2-3 in the morning happen. They also have a nice policy evicting problem tenants on paper but very seldom do this.  We as a community will no longer stand for this. We have formed five condo associations together, residents of Bella Vista, Q Meadows residences and the Q Meadows Home Owners association, as well as our local Alders to act as one voice in the community and to put our concerns into votes. We are currently taking our issues outside of New Haven, since nothing has been done, and bring this to State and Federal levels. I would like to thank everyone that came out and supported us at the QEMT meeting, but more importantly, I would like to thank all for the support of the Martinez, Law, and McLauaghlin families in signing a petition for Gov. Malloy to offer rewards for the arrest and conviction of their killers. This community will stand with the families until their killers are brought to justice.

Ron Codianni

posted by: Q-ave 22 on August 6, 2014  11:41pm

I’ve attended over 8 meeting I never seen anyone from housing Mrs.Watkins a bold face liar they always cancel last minute and the one time a rep was there with Emanuel Baptist Church we asked her questions and she said she answer them later and she cut out early with reverend money bags. If you don’t believe me just attend your meeting first Tuesday of every month at Ross/Woodward school 7pm and you will see I’m not a liar like Karen.