Franklin housing authority residents seeing positive changes

Published 12:23 pm Saturday, June 23, 2012

FRANKLIN—LaToya Darden and her children LaTasha, 6, and Monterez Douglas, 7, feel safer in their Berkley Court apartment since the new Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority director took over in December.

LaToya Darden and her children, Monterez and LaTasha Douglas, feel safer now living in Berkley Court thanks to changes made by the new Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority director. -- DALE LIESCH/TIDEWATER NEWS

Phillip Page Jr. has teamed up with a security firm and made other changes that make a difference to the 27-year-old single mother, who has lived in the government-subsidized complex for four years.

“They’re keeping street lights up and running,” Darden said. “The grass cutting has been better, and the overall maintenance has been better.”

Beacon Security from Portsmouth charges $25 an hour to patrol Berkley Court off Campbell Avenue, Oldtown Terrace on Bruce Street and Pretlow Gardens on Pretlow Street an average of 35 hours a week.

Board members also seem happier with Page on board.

Housing Authority Board Member Anthony King said Page has tightened up other policies as well. Residents now bear the burden if a repair in an apartment is needed due to negligence, but “if something is just worn out” the housing authority foots the bill.

Page also has clamped down on a one-strike policy that could result in eviction if convicted of any aggressive crime — misdemeanor or felony — or drug convictions, King said.

Page has started two programs to help residents work toward home ownership through a class to help maximize their money. He is also planning to implement a homebuyers’ club in September to focus on what it takes to be a good homeowner.

Berkley Court resident Shamiere Boone, 33, who moved into his mother’s apartment about nine months ago, agrees that Page’s steps have made the complex safer.

“There isn’t as much crime anymore,” said the co-owner of Boone’s Landscaping in Carrsville. “It feels a whole lot safer.”

Boone, who has lived there on and off his whole life, said the housing authority staff has done a lot more “footwork” by coming out and talking to residents.

“It makes me feel like they’re more concerned,” he said.

Resident James Newsome said he has never had a problem with the staff.

“If you ask them to come out and fix a light, they’ll come out and fix it,” the 72-year-old retired trucker said. “I’ve never had an argument or a beef with them.”

Resident Mary Davis said she’s been too busy with her job at Southampton Memorial Hospital to notice the changes except for one thing.

“It’s quieter because of the security,” Davis, 46, said. “I love that it’s quieter.”

Davis lives with her 20-year-old son, Charles in a two-bedroom apartment at Berkley Court.

FRHA Board Member Cindy Fillhart called Page a “fabulous director.”

“He’s one of the best things that has happened to the housing authority,” she said. “He’s doing lots of positive things.”