Ypsilanti Housing Commission to ban smoking in its units
The Ypsilanti Housing Commission will soon institute a smoking ban in its units.
The new policy is an effort by the YHC to improve health and safety conditions in its housing stock, as well as reduce maintenance costs.
It's the first housing authority in Washtenaw County to implement such a program. The policy will become effective on or before May 1.
YHC Executive Director Walter Norris said the data presented to the commission by the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, which has advised the YHC on the policy, overwhelmingly indicates that the policy will benefit residents.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
“Second-hand smoke has a real negative impact on the residents and for those who come into contact with it,” he said. “It is a sort of an umbrella health concern. Smoking cigarettes secondarily affects others, and HUD has determined that it is appropriate to have a non-smoking policy.”
Those residents who are already smokers will be exempt from the new policy unless they choose to switch units, in which case they won’t be allowed to smoke in their new unit. They will be the only tenants allowed to smoke in their home.
Norris said there will be designated smoking areas outdoors where residents can smoke and dispose of their butts. Setting up signage for the areas and providing receptacles for the butts will be the only cost to the Housing Commission.
The ban will be enforced on a complaint basis, Norris said. If someone reports their neighbor is smoking, then there could be an investigation.
If it is discovered that a tenant is smoking, the Housing Commission would provide a written warning. If the smoking continued, then the eviction process could be initiated, Norris said.
Aside from the health issues, Norris said the YHC incurs maintenance costs because of a film left on walls by the smoke, and burn marks on carpets and other parts of the units are an issue.
He added that the cigarettes are a fire hazard.
“There is a potential threat for safety, not only for a resident who is smoking, but to those in homes where there may not be any smoking,” Norris said. “A fire can run very rampant through a building.”
Norris said HUD, which provides funding to the housing agencies, is encouraging housing commissions to adopt a no-smoking policy. He said the Housing Commission is communicating the changes to its tenants and the Washtenaw County Public Health Department will assist those residents who want to quit smoking.
According to the Health Department, in 2010, the Michigan Department of Community Health received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars to encourage smoke-free housing. Washtenaw County is one of several Michigan counties participating in the "Michigan Smoke Free Apartment Initiative" and assisting property owners in voluntarily adopting smoke-free policies.