STEUBENVILLE - Officials from Jefferson County and Steubenville expressed concerns about criminal activities in public housing during a 30-minute meeting Monday with Bill Johnson, R-Ohio.
"Our concern is someone is going to be hurt. The Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority is not taking steps to stop the activities in the public housing apartments and not allowing us to help them," said City Manager Cathy Davison.
Davison said the housing authority started supplying her office with detailed information regarding tenants as well as public housing properties and Section 8 voucher housing in an attempt crack down on alleged drug activity.
Photo by Dave Gossett
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, left, listens to Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci during a 30-minute meeting Monday called to discuss criminal activities in public housing apartments.
And County Commissioner Thomas Graham asked Johnson to initiate a federal investigation into the public housing program throughout the county.
The congressman also heard from Jim Mavromatis, a retired Drug Enforcement Agency supervisor who said he dealt with similar issues in east Cleveland.
"In the world of law enforcement, this is a case of administrative issues not being followed. There are policies and procedures dealing with these issues," said Mavromatis.
The Monday meeting came three weeks after a shooting at the Earl Rodgers public housing complex in the city. City police reports state a sport utility vehicle pulled up in front of the apartment complex at 9:17 p.m. May 21. A man got out and began firing shots at a group of people on a porch in the housing complex. Officers reported two men in the group on the porch began to return fire.
Two apartments were hit with bullets, and numerous spent shell casings were found on the street and near the porch of the apartment.
City officials met last week with the JMHA board of commissioners to discuss the criminal incidents in public housing. A statement released by JMHA Executive Director Joe Costantini following the Wednesday meeting said the JMHA will continue to maintain its "one strike and you're out" policy for screening and eviction for criminal activity in public housing, and will continue to work closely with the city police to address drug-related criminal activity in its properties.
"JMHA residents who have knowledge of criminal activity are encouraged to report it to the police and to the authority," he stated.
"I see an engaged city administration who are doing their job. I will stand alongside the city and support city leaders to remedy this situation," said Johnson.
First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto, who also serves as the city representative on the housing authority's board of commissioners, said the city has "more than its share of public housing."
"We need to see the public housing spread around among other communities," he said. "This is taxing our city resources.