Housing Lost, Trust Torn Down

Article excerpt

The city has lost more than just $8 million because of its

failure to find enough places to build public housing to replace

Blodgett Homes.

It has lost another bit of trust.

A loss that, ironically, comes at a time when efforts are being

stepped up to build trust between poorer residents and City

Hall.

"Well, I'm not the kind of person to say `I told you so,' "

said City Councilman Warren Jones. In 1989, Jones warned that

the city would have problems finding enough neighborhoods

throughout the city to accept new public housing if it

demolished the 47-year-old complex on the northwest edge of

downtown.

"But what happened to the promises of government leaders?

People are still looking for public housing. There used to be a

time where if your home burned down, they could find a place for

you in public housing. Now, they can't do that. . . . Certainly,

when you look at all of that, it's hard to find a reason to

trust."

Jones' frustrations come on the heels of a decision three weeks

ago by the Jacksonville Housing Authority to scrap plans to

build a 60-unit complex on the former site of a stock car

racetrack off Lenox Avenue on the Westside.

Officials said persistent concerns about the environmental

safety of the site prompted their decision. Area residents who

opposed the complex said they had the same concerns. But that

explanation is tough to buy, given the fact that in 1994, one

Hillcrest resident said during a public hearing that if the

apartments were built nearby, his first action would be "to buy

a gun."

"The problem is what it has always been with public housing: No

one wants it," Jones said.

Now, as Mayor John Delaney's initiatives to help people in

three of the city's most neglected neighborhoods begin to take

off, about 1,400 people are languishing on waiting lists for

public housing. …